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 Post subject: Alan Irons Review: 2016 BOA San Jose FINALS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:22 pm 
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***FINALS REVIEW***

Bands of America Regional Championships presented by YAMAHA
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA
October 22, 2016

The weather was perfect tonight--not too cold, and with a light breeze. I sat on the 50 like I did for prelims, but decided to sit much lower, to get a different, perhaps more "individual" perspective. Eric Martin, President and CEO of Music for All, did a great job prepping the audience for tonight's finale, emphasizing that every kid on the field should be thought of as "your kid." A trumpet player from the Homestead band did a great job playing the national anthem, and his band was in the stands to cheer him on. (Homestead was the host for this contest.) Throughout the night the names and credentials of the judges were introduced, and...I'm not sure I liked that. (I liked it when they had the judges come down to the field and were introduced one-by-one. I think it sets the precedence, and it is much less distracting, placing more of the focus on the kids on the field.) The announcer did a fine job this evening, pronouncing every name correctly (or seemingly correctly), using great vocal inflection, and following "the BOA way." The trophies, as always, looked awesome, and maintain that unique BOA design. No one had a sense of which band was favored to win this. Saratoga, Clovis West, and James Logan were all class champions, and even Homestead took a caption in class AAAA (classes based on school size, mind you--not band size or band quality).

One of the things I love about BOA Finals is that the bands "look different" under the lights. Something about the lights seem to bring the best out of them. Another thing is that: you have a day of daytime performances, and granted, this can be challenging for groups that hapen to face the sun or have that big looming shadow cast over half the field. But the best groups rise above, regardless of performance time. It's neat to see how these groups "emerge," intersperced between groupds of varied qualities. When the field is narrowed to the "top ten," when you see the bands in the top ten you begin to know WHY they are in the top ten. And the top ten is simply fun--one great performance...after another.

Here are my thoughts on how the night went:

FINALS

Damonte Ranch H.S.
Reno, NV
Repertoire: "Seeing Red," including "Medea's Dance of Vengeance," "This is Your Day," and "Tapestry of Nations: Chaos"
Comments: White, circular platters were situated across the field. The performers were in white and black, with shades of red in the skirts, the plumes, and shoulders. The first impacts, particularly from the trumpets, were not as strong as they could be, and it could have been a matter of tuning. Ooh, messy entrance. Come on, folks! Those with flags were quite together, and formations were not bad. The ballad was smooth and pretty, and that is from an overall perspective. Excellent horizontal spin toss, rifles. Not bad. Lock it in, trumpets. There was a trumpet player who was playing when he shouldn't have. I could see the intent with their product. Right now their biggest weakness is blend and balance, and timing. The energy, I am happy to report, did not die the whole way through. Well done, and congratulations
My Score: 68.30
My Placement: 9th
Actual Score: 65.35
Actual Placement: 10th

Live Oak H.S.
Morgan Hill, CA
Repertoire: "Leap of Faith," including "Leap of Faith" Composed by Rob Stein, "Lacriomsa" from Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor, "Prelude to Paradise" by Jacob Remmington, and "Fly to Paradise" by Eric Whitacre
Comments: Mini trampolines, outlined in blue, were set on their side like a small backdrop. (There were many of them.) The winds grounded their horns. The auxiliary wore multi-shades of blue with a flowing lower rear cape. A sneaking, mysterious sound from the pit made with the synth and violin bows on cymbals get them off to a remarkable start. I love how when sections of the band break off from the whole to have an ensemble moment, there is one person jumping on a trampoline in the midst of the ensemble. It was quite amusing. Way to feature the fabulous guard, wind folks, hanging back, allowing the pros with the sabers and flags to do their thing...and "do" they did! Super domino saber toss. SUPER. The drums had their few seconds of fame. Again, the guard excelled. Well, well done. The ending seemed tacked on, sadly. Nevertheless, this band of moderate size played big. This was a strong group.
My Score: 71.50
My Placement: 8th
Actual Score: 69.05
Actual Placement: 8th

Lynbrook H.S.
San Jose, CA
Repertoire: "Conquer the Dark," including "Lullaby" by Johannes Brahms, "Dies Irae" by Guiseppe Verdi, "Requiem" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "I Believe" by Katy Perry, and "Fly to Paradise" by Eric Whitacre
Comments: An angry-looking, stalking member of the guard "steals" a mellophone and chucks it 30 yards into the side B endzone, much to the surprise of the audience. Good thing this mellophone was already severely damaged! I liked the flat, sharp "plumes" on the shakos, essentially a purple backdrop of sorts. The bad dream begins, theatrically, but then we get a shot of adrenaline. Way to sound like one woodwind, woodwinds. I was impressed by the rifle work, but...it could be a bit more as one. Long poles held these paper lantern-type balls high in the air, adding color. Well done dragging that toe down on the move in the ballad, marchers. Superb timing, all! Neat switching places pattern in the drill and then the new "shako" reveal--shimmering, now--along with a power ballad to end their show. Inspired performance! Congratulations.
My Score: 72.00
My Placement: 7th
Actual Score: 69.25
Actual Placement: 7th

Amador Valley H.S.
Pleasanton, CA
Repertoire: "The Garden" featuring "The Colony" from Antz by Harry D. Gregson-Williams and John James Powell, "City Trees" by Miochael Markowski, "Sabre Dance" by Aram Khachaturian, "The Bird Flies" by Randy Newman
Comments: Very large, impressive sunflower props and exaggerated white picket fences transformed the field. You can hear the sounds of the garden via the sound effects. Slumped over, and very soon "awakened," we get some arm-swinging action from the winds. Shimmy to the right, visually and with music, too? That was ace, woodwinds. This show was a joy to behold, this purple army not letting up. Breaking up from a long, thick form, into different clumps, weere the winds; and making their way into the beautiful ballad were flags that looked like butterfly wings. Uh, you could move more in that battery feature, battery. Whew! Double-tonguing insanity pulled off well, and the pace is strong. I like how this group has their own curtain call at the end with a long flowing form, and bowing on hands and knees to connect their black plumes to the person bowing in front of them. This was a fun show, through and through, and memorable!
My Score: 75.20
My Placement: 6th
Actual Score: 73.30
Actual Placement: 6th

Santa Teresa H.S.
San Jose, CA
Repertoire: Peter Gynt "Morning Mood" by Edvard Grieg, "Farandole" by Bizet, "Symphony No. 7, Mvt. 2" by Beethoven, "Symphony No. 9" by Dvorak, and "Simple Gifts" (Traditional)
Comments: I don't know if these kids thought they would be here, but they're here! Many of the guard were flanked by wind players on each side. Trust lean forwards by the guard were sustained by their peers. The little kid voice coming from the speakers was difficult to understand. The trumpets rocked their feature not once, but two times, now. Quality work, auxiliary, and perfectly coordinated facial expressions. Ooh, that high saber toss took a bounce. (Decent recovery, however.) Ooh, hangover trump, trump, trumpeeeeet! The "chorale and shaker" ("Simple Gifts") section evolved into hits that seemed to scattershot. If this band were a mixing board, the mix would be all over the place with how they finished. Yikes. Mighty effort. Nice work on making it into the top ten.
My Score: 67.00
My Placement: 10th
Actual Score: 66.45
Actual Placement: 9th

James Logan H.S.
Union City, CA
Repertoire: [Not Listed in the program, but after some research, it's "The Secret Life of Sir Isaac Newton," with what sounded like some Philip Glass music]
Comments: If I cock my head a little to my left I can see the diagonals in their big block form are off, row by row. These winds had exceptional poise, though. Like a jet plane taking off was the pit, enhanced by the beat-down drums. Killer double-tonguing, trumpets. The woodwinds had some time in the spotlight, too, but did not seem quite aligned with their sound. They dazzled, these guys. A heart-pounding drum featurette, with storybook props opened up and having ramps, conveyed a professional vibe few bands had this evening. Boom buzz, boom buzz...love it, snares. The cerebral minimalist melodies and rip-roaring trombones obliterated. Go, go Logan! Exact rifle catches, YES!!! Unwanted trumpet overextension, no. Oh no. And that was that. Great show. There were blemishes here and there, but...brute force prevailed, it seemed.
My Score: 82.90
My Placement: 3rd
Actual Score: 75.70
Actual Placement: 5th

Clovis West H.S.
Fresno, CA
Repertoire: "Rhapsody," featuring "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in Concert C-sharp minor" by Franz Liszt
Comments: Many white piano props and benches, plus one black piano, real, were placed on the field in a horizontal linear formation, the real one raised up on a platform and placed square on the front "50" number. The flamboyantly dressed pianist kicked off the show during the pre-show announcement, followed by flawless music. (Side note: excellent work show designer, making the pianist "stand out." He is a star in this show of stars.) This band easily had the best uniforms here, being light grey, with a sash that had a intricately designed keyboard design, and wild, classy shakos. Man, that low brass section must have had steak for dinner, or something. Beefy. So good! I can't say much about the pianist, because he is perfect. The guard was great, too. This group was in a class all their own. They were a different pedigree...creativity, excellence, name it what you will. I am just going to sit back and enjoy this, now. Thank you.
My Score: 84.00
My Placement: 2nd
Actual Score: 79.30
Actual Placement: 1st

Saratoga H.S.
Saratoga, CA
Repertoire: "En Garde," including "Sleeping Beauty Waltz" by Pyotr Tchaikovsky," "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff, original music by Frank Sullivan
Comments: Symmetrical-looking, this group got set up in a quiet, humble way. A concert horn player to the left on a high platform prepared, breathed in, and then a solid go. The fencing sabers, and fancing/ballet poses, were spot on, spot on. These kids were surgeons with their sound! Awesome. And then there is that fireball "come at me, bro!" stuff in sound, and portrayed in motion. Excellent chiseled forms. Lovely clarinet, horn duet, and then we dive right into the ballad, which sweeps you off your feet, and then some. I'm feelin' it! Sprinkles of light from all the sabers tossed were caught right on! And now the giant, white, flowing flags. Yeah, they had a great show.
My Score: 84.30
My Placement: 1st
Actual Score: 78.65
Actual Placement: 2nd

Homestead H.S.
Cupertino, CA
Repertoire: "Zero," including "Overture" by Bjork, "Symphony No. 5 Movements II and IV" by Sergei Rachmaninov, "Winter" from the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, and "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber
Comments: Geometrically painted props that looked like iceburgs, a frigid-looking front-drop along the front sideline, and four massive, white triangle backdrops highlighting a horn soloist, were all there. A stately ballad, complete with rotating spiral form and breezy flags compelled. The menacing interlude cuts, and cuts! I can tell this stuff was not easy, based on flaws (mostly timing). They did not give up, though. The crackling ice sounds were subtle. The booming synth with THX-like sound as the frequency lowered: bravo! Way to perform, drumline! Okay, my eyes were on the guard, now. Pretty suave. Not perfect, but oh well. It seemed like the feet of the winds marching were all over the place. Their uniforms may have blanked out some inconsistencies, but they don't fool me. The while hula hoop tossed out to roll with the band (including pit) "taking cover" in what sounded like a blizzard, rolled and rolled to the sound, and when it jiggled to the ground, somebody in the pit (hidden) faded the music out. Ha ha! Perfect!
My Score: 82.70
My Placement: 4th
Actual Score: 77.65
Actual Placement: 3rd

William S. Hart H.S.
Newhall, CA
Repertoire: "Bittersweet Symphony," music includes "5 and 9 Symphony" by Beethoven, "New World Symphony" by Dvorak, and "Little Fugue in G" by Bach
Comments: Ringing sounds are made, and to might right, in the distance, a faux conductor with an oversize baton and oversize music stand prop resides. She conducts. A narrator tells us what a symphony is, which is cheesy, but works. Saber soloist who caught that, you know who you are. (Awesome!) Ha ha! Cute. The flutes and clarinets are pretending to play the violen with their instrument acting as the bow. So proficient! I tell ya, the heartbeat of this group is the drums, hands down. They do not overpower, and yet they are so present. And when they go wild, they do not apologize and nor do they need to. So musical. All of them. This was a strong show, but it did not seem to push the envelope. Vanilla programming, and precision-over-risk-taking prevailed. I can't knock them too much, though. I acknowledge the performance excellence, and I'm sure the judges will, too.
My Score: 80.00
My Placement: 5th
Actual Score: 76.95
Actual Placement: 4th

[END OF FINALS COMPETITION]

Exhibition: The King's Academy (Class A Champion)
Sunnyvale, CA
Repertoire: "Anchors Aweigh: An Ocean Voyage," featuring "The Journey Begins," "Dance of Light," and "The Storm" by Jesse Marlin
Comments: The five in the guard linked hands in front of the pod of drummers, and rocked side to side as if in the sea. This band executed very well, musically and visually. The "sailing the seas" theme came out with the voiceovers, like, "All hands on deck!" For so few, they had a full sound. This band made the most of what they had. Two wind players doubled as guard. The triplet section near the end was lagging a bit, I believe, but then they landed well. "Land ho!" indeed.
My Score: n/a
My Placement: n/a
Actual Score: n/a
Actual Placement: n/a

This was a wonderful evening of pageantry. All the performances were great. It was also really nice to see The King's Academy perform again, showing the audience why they are the Class A champions. The audience was well behaved, though I was a bit disappointed they did not stand up and clap more for the groups. (This was one of the more "tame," "uninspired" BOA audiences.)

My Scores
1. 84.30 Saratoga H.S., CA
2. 84.00 Clovis West H.S., CA
3. 82.90 James Logan H.S., CA
4. 82.70 Homestead H.S., CA
5. 80.00 William S. Hart H.S., CA
6. 75.20 Amador Valley H.S., CA
7. 72.00 Lynbrook H.S., CA
8. 71.50 Live Oak H.S., CA
9. 68.30 Damonte Ranch H.S., NV
10. 67.00 Santa Teresa H.S., CA

Visual - Saratoga H.S., CA
Music - Clovis West H.S., CA
G.E. - James Logan H.S., CA

Actual Scores
1. 79.30 Clovis West H.S., CA
2. 78.65 Saratoga H.S., CA
3. 77.65 Homestead H.S., CA
4. 76.95 William S. Hart H.S., CA
5. 75.70 James Logan H.S., CA
6. 73.30 Amador Valley H.S., CA
7. 69.25 Lynbrook H.S., CA
8. 69.05 Live Oak H.S., CA
9. 66.45 Santa Teresa H.S., CA
10. 65.35 Damonte Ranch H.S., CA

Visual - Saratoga H.S., CA
Music - Saratoga H.S., CA
G.E. - Clovis West H.S., CA

Once the bands came on the field for a full retreat, drum majors were called "front and center," and class champion medallions were given to each of the class champion bands: The King's Academy (Class A), Saratoga High School (Class AA), Clovis West High School (Class AAA), and James Logan High School (Class AAAA). Soon after, the placements for the top ten bands were announced. The caption awards were not announced right away, providing an element of mystery. However, even after the caption awards were announced, it was still unknown who might take this show. Granted, General Effect is the most weighted caption, but Music and Visual have their weight, too. When the defending champions, Saratoga, was announced second, there was an excitement in the air. Clovis West knew they had won, but they stayed disciplined, statuesque. Finally, when the announcer told the bands that they were all winners in life and to "break ranks," Clovis West let out a huge roar, jumping up and down, celebrating their well-deserved win. One of the best parts of a BOA show is watching the kids partake in great sportsmanship, shaking hands, exhanging congratulations, ideas. Such professionalism. Then things seemed to get wild and crazy. Someone on the field started a big conga line. The Damonte Ranch kids looked like they were hosting a dance-off, where kids were attempting their best moves, including a quite dangerous-looking back flip. But then I had to remind myself: these are kids.

Isn't it great to see this?

Sincerely,
Alan Irons


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Irons Review: 2016 BOA San Jose FINALS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:30 pm 
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Thank you


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Irons Review: 2016 BOA San Jose FINALS
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:38 pm 
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(problems posting above)
Thank you Alan, you painted the perfect picture for those of us that couldn't attend. Long Beach Alan?.....Hope you make it...Your reviews are awesome....Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Irons Review: 2016 BOA San Jose FINALS
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:16 pm 
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6yr.bandvet wrote:
(problems posting above)
Thank you Alan, you painted the perfect picture for those of us that couldn't attend. Long Beach Alan?.....Hope you make it...Your reviews are awesome....Thanks


You're welcome. Yes, I'll be there. God willing.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Irons Review: 2016 BOA San Jose FINALS
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:38 pm 
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Well, dagnabit!

We could have hooked up.

I was there!

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