Music rang through Roseburg High School’s Rose Theatre this week as 16 middle school and 14 high school bands converged for the annual Roseburg Band Invitational.
Local schools such as Jo Lane, Glide and Riddle middle schools and middle schools from Grants Pass, Central Point, Medford and Talent took the stage on Wednesday. Fremont was scheduled to attend the event, but according to band director Ross Hansen, complications kept them from performing.
On Thursday, high schools from Oakland, Grants Pass, North Bend, Springfield, Medford, Ashland, Phoenix and Klamath Falls competed as part of the Class 6A Southwest Conference.
According to Roseburg High School Director of Bands Branden Hansen, he began the Roseburg Band Invitational in 2011 when he realized there was a lack of opportunities for bands in the local area to perform in a competitive format.
“The nearest festivals were all in Eugene or Medford and that made it very difficult for some schools in Douglas County to participate,” said Branden Hansen. “Performing in a festival staffed by OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) judges is a great learning experience and I wanted to help make that opportunity more accessible for our region.”
This year, the OSAA chose the invitational as part of the conference competition for 5A and 6A high schools. Schools in the southwest region — from the coast to Eugene to Ashland and over to Klamath Falls — had to earn high enough scores at this competition to qualify for the State Championships.
Only the first place band in each league is guaranteed a spot. Other bands that score well but don’t win first might advance, but Hansen said there are multiple factors and a consolation bracket used to decide if those bands advance or not.
Roseburg High School Wind Ensemble were league champions for the OSAA 6A Southwest Conference. This is the fifth year in a row that the Roseburg High School Wind Ensemble has been named conference champions. North Bend High School Symphonic Band received league champion for OSAA 5A Midwestern League. Both will be moving on to state championships at Oregon State University on May 11.
Thurston High School Wind Ensemble and Ashland High School Wind Ensemble received qualifying scores but didn’t place first. It is yet to be determined if they will advance to state.
According to Hansen, Oakland High School Concert Band participated in the festival and earned a qualifying score, but the group is not part of the same league. Their league event will be held at a later date.
“They still have a chance at their league festival to place first and automatically advance to state,” said Hansen.
The middle schools were not part of the competition. Hansen says there are no state championships for middle school bands.
“However, middle schools often go to festivals as a chance to learn from judges’ feedback, hear other bands perform, and get more experience performing. So although there isn’t the ability to advance to ‘State’ for middle school bands, many still participate in our event for the educational reasons.”
Roseburg High School senior Bethany Endicott, who plays saxophone for the jazz and wind ensembles and is a drum major in the marching band, said it was fun to see her former middle school, Jo Lane, perform.
“It’s so much fun (with the middle schoolers), they bring such a lively energy,” said Endicott. “It’s really good to see my middle school band and see where I started and now where I am and the kind of progress that can be made in just a few years time.”
Hansen emphasizes that it is the experience, not the scores, ranks and placements, that is the main focus of the Roseburg High School band.
“I never talk about ‘beating’ another band. The conversation is always ‘how can we beat Roseburg and be better than ourselves?’” said Hansen. “If we get a shiny piece of plastic (aka trophy) that’s great, but we push ourselves to be artists of a high level so we can communicate emotion, drama, and beauty through performance. The scores or numbers are never the driving force. They’re just a byproduct that serves as a confirmation that we’re doing alright along the way!”