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Music in the theme parks

The Biddeford High School Band won best band at a competition at Six Flags New England

Colby Perron, Staff Writer

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For the Biddeford High School Symphonic Band, any win is a good win, but winning at a festival in Massachusetts turned out to be more confusing than it should have been.

On Saturday May 6th, the Biddeford High School Symphonic Band took to the highway down to Agawam, Massachusetts to attend a festival sponsored by Six Flags Amusement Parks. Band teacher Patrick Bolin says that attending this festival was the student’s choice.

“The event is called ‘Music in the Parks’ and is sponsored by Six Flags,” said Bolin. “We asked the students at the beginning of the year what fun thing they’d like to do, and they chose this. Last year, we went to New York City for a few days, but this is what they chose to do this year.”

The event was chosen early on in the year, but preparation for the event only took place recently according to Bolin.

“They have been working on the tunes they had for the past couple months,” said Bolin. “We played three different tunes at another festival that we went to at Scarborough High School and three down at Six Flags.”

The band may not have been practicing long, but according to Bolin, they still managed to practice very hard.

“There are students from block three and block four, and they prepare for the event in class,” said Bolin. “We listen to professional recordings to get an idea for the style, length of notes, that kind of thing. The kids, hopefully, practiced a bit outside of class, but we mostly worked on it during the school day.”

The students practiced three songs: two classics, and one piece written for high school bands to perform.

“The first song that we played ‘Washington Post March’ by John Philip Sousa,” said Bolin. “That song is generally associated with political rallies, which most people know. If you don’t know it, it’s the song that they use in ‘Back to the Future’ when Marty McFly goes back to the 1950s and someone is yelling ‘save the clock tower.”

The specially written piece was one that was more obscure than ‘Washington Post March’ but still managed to wow the judges.

“The last one that that we played was a tune written for band called ‘Air For Band’ written by Frank Erickson. Kind of an obscure one, but a fun one none the less,” Bolin said.

However, the song that really made the band stand out according to many of the members, was a classical song written by famous Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“We also played the ‘1812 Overture’ by Tchaikovsky,” said Bolin. “That one was written in 1860 about Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, so it was an overture about that event. Another popular song that was used in a lot of things.”

The BHS band was one of seven bands participating in one of a few different categories, including high school band, middle school band, choral, instrumental, among others. Each school would be judged on their performance and ranked based on their score.

“Of the four ratings, you could get either fair, good, excellent, or superior,” said Bolin. “Both judges gave [BHS] symphonic band a superior rating, which is the best we’ve ever done there. The symphonic band was rated first in schools our size, and then later, first in all the high schools that were there.”

Despite the obvious win, some of the band students were confused as to what they won and who they won against. Junior Brendan McBrine was under the impression that they were only competing against high schools until he did research on the topic.

“I didn’t know that we were competing against middle schools until we won the competition,” said McBrine. “We were really just excited that we got first place. Then you see all the little kids crying on the way back on the bus.”

Fellow band member and junior Jacob Douglass also agreed with McBrine, believing that they had beaten a series of middle school bands.

“People started to research the event and information got passed around that this wasn’t just a high school competition,” said Douglass. “I went to the website and one of the blurbs on the site said something like ‘taking home a trophy, is like winning a competitive sports event for your children. It really seemed to be geared towards middle school families.”

Douglass also believed that there was a majority of middle schools there because of their large presence in the Six Flags New England theme park after the band performances.

“The thing is, you see the other kids and they’re all wearing their school shirts,” said Douglass. “We were all questioning where the high school kids were, because obviously these kids were too young.”

McBrine believed that their win felt cheap and that they only won because they were a high school band.

“I’m not trying to put us down,” said McBrine. “But we never get first place in any other competition, so it’s just kind of weird that we won. I mean, if we just beat middle schools, is it really that good of a win?”

However, Bolin clarified the confusion by explaining the categories once again, showing that the Biddeford High School band really did beat all the other high schools that were competing, and only happened to beat the middle schools in the overall category.

“The key is, first in the high schools that were there,” said Bolin. “It wasn’t like we won best in New England, which some people are making it out to be. We just came in first there. There was a middle school winner and a high school winner and then an overall winner. We happened to get the overall winner.”

No matter who the Biddeford High School Band beat or where they ranked in which competition, the one thing that is certain is that Biddeford High School earned their win and look forward to many more great competitions in their future.

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Music in the theme parks