Three North Coast schools took top spots in last week's OSAA Band and Orchestra State Championships, held at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
The Warrenton High School band, directed by John Hammond, tied for first place with Portland's Jefferson High School band with a total of 257 points in the 3A Division.
In the 4A Division, the Seaside High School Symphonic Band, directed by Terry Dahlgren, narrowly beat the Astoria High School band, directed by Scott Cuthbert, for fourth place. Three points divided the two.
Hammond said the big win was a perfect way to end his sixth year teaching at Warrenton.
"This is just the culmination of a really great year. The kids are so nice to work with," Hammond said.
Hammond said the band played an early 9:30 a.m. spot in Corvallis, and had to hit the road at 5 a.m. that morning to make it on time. He was impressed with his students' determination.
"I had very few complaints about the early hour. The first part of the bus ride was very quiet," he said.
Hammond's band played Polka from Smetana's "The Bartered Bride," Frank Ticheli's arrangement of Shenandoah, and "Apollo: Myth and Legend," by Rob Romeyn.
Dahlgren said he was wowed by the performance his band gave this year.
"I thought it was one of the most confident and musical performances I've heard our band give," he said.
The Seaside band placed second in the sight-reading portion of the event, a fact Dahlgren relishes.
In sight-reading, bands and directors are given an unfamiliar piece to perform. In seven minutes, they must study the piece - without playing it - and then play it the best they can.
"It's a bit of a stressful task, but it's a good one that tests your band's skills at figuring out a piece with little time or help," Hammond said.
Cuthbert said this year's contest participants were more impressive than usual.
"This year's competition was a particularly exciting one as all of the bands were in exceptional form and the scores were extremely close," he said.
Sixteen bands participated.
Cuthbert said the results were a testimony to the area's commitment to band from students, teachers and administration.
"It was a noticeably strong showing from this part of the state and reflects well on the state of the programs at our local area schools," Cuthbert said.
Cuthbert said he's particularly proud of his band's many achievements across many different genres.
He cited the AHS Jazz Band's third place finish at this year's Clark College Jazz competition, as well as the AHS Marching Band's solid scores among many 5A and several 6A bands at this year's regional championship (including bands from as far south as California and as far east as Idaho) held at University of Oregon's Autzen Stadium. The winter percussion ensemble placed second in the regional championships held in Vancouver in March.
"We are very proud to be firing on all cylinders this year and want to acknowledge the efforts of our young local musicians. They are great kids!" Cuthbert said.
Bands who won their respective league tournaments around the state along with a select group of bands who had qualifying scores were invited to the recent state competition.
Bands are judged on various aspects of their performances by three judges who are brought in from out of state to insure an open minded and fair read of the student's performances. Three judges rated each band for quality of sound, technique, musicality (30 points each) and an additional 10 points are awarded at the judges' discretion to acknowledge aspects such as choice of music and the band's appearance. Each judge's score adds up to 100 points total.
Following their public performances, bands are then led to a separate room where they are given a piece of music they have never seen before to "sight read." A fourth judge may then award up to 60 points for accuracy of notes, rhythms and stylistic details, response to fellow players and conductor, and discipline.