World of Pageantry

Review: WBA Trabuco Hills
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Author:  airons0678 [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 1:25 am ]
Post subject:  Review: WBA Trabuco Hills

Tournament in the Hills
Trabuco Hills High School Stadium
Mission Viejo, CA
November 15, 2003

The weather became a concern to me when it rained on and off on my way to Mission Viejo. Staring at the clouds ahead of me through the windshield, I noticed some clearer skies ahead, which gave me more hope than I thought I would have. I arrived in Mission Viejo two hours before the show began. Since I was early, I went to lunch. Aaah, Mission Viejo. (I used to live here.) I always marvel at how the city has changed over the years. There are more more people, more area, and more buildings. But one thing has not changed about Mission Viejo: its beauty. The epitome of ideal suburban life, Mission Viejo is all its own, not having enough in common with its county or bordering counties to be "the center of it all," and yet because of its location it *is* "the center of it all." I do not know how else to write it. I guess you need to feel it. But if you are near this place, stop on by for lunch, or take a walk along one of its winding roads in the hills. And now that I have mentioned the hills of Mission Viejo, I further go into the "Tournament in the Hills," a Western Band Association show held at Trabuco Hills High School. Since I was early enough, I found a close place to park near the high school. Someone showed me to the box office. While waiting for the host to sell tickets, I listened to a volunteer coordinator lead a group of volunteers in a meeting, and found out how *organized* this event really was. The Trabuco Hills High School Marching Band has one of the best run marching band events in the whole state hands down. After I paid to get in at the box office, a gentleman helped me put my wristband on, and then I went through the gates. The front side of the stadium is cement, with metal bleachers. The field was green near the edges, and brown in the center (which is typical of all football fields this time of year with football season and all), and a beautiful track surrounded it. The cityscape was in the background to the left of the stadium, and sitting in the stadium you definitely had a pleasant view of some of the hills. The weather was cool and cloudy, with a mix of dark and grey clouds. When the event started, the man announcing had a dry, official voice, and certainly adequate. The event was about to begin.

For those of you who know my style of review, you may or may not want to skip over this part. During my review I will give you as much information as possible on the units at the field show tournament. In addition to my commentary, there will be scores and placements. The scores and placements included are my scores and placements and the actual scores and placements. Why do I include my results? I include my results to give an ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVE. What "person A" thinks may not be what "person B" thinks, and pertains to directors, judges, fans, parents, critics...everyone. (This is called subjectivity...a word you will see used over and over again if you are further interested in how high school marching band judging works). I also do it for fun, as funny as that may seem. Think of it as trying to predict the outcome of a horse race. My system of scoring is not an exact science, of course. For those who are interested, Bands of America is my primary reference for how I evaluate. In my mind, I compare and contrast bands from the show I see to bands I have seen at shows across the nation this year (and in years passed). (You may, for example, be concerned about how low my scores are, but this is nothing to be alarmed about. In Bands of America, I have always considered a score of say, 65.00, to be pretty decent, and a score of say, 80.00, to be darn good.) Please note, however, that I have not had any training as an official judge, I am not an official judge, and I have never been an official judge. Quite simply, I have over the years taken an accute interest in the high school marching band activity, learning from the "inside" and the "outside" about its structure and function. Therefore, you can take my opinions as seriously as you would like, and please do not be afraid to e-mail me to let me know what you think. I like to keep an open mind, and enjoy reading the perspectives of others. Now that I have that out of the way, here it is...MY REVIEW!

Class A

Servite High School
Anaheim, CA
Program: "Transitions and Traditions"
Comments: The musicians wore cavalier style hats with long black and white feathers. The first formation of the wind players was a diagonal starting from the back side A 27 yard line, and extending to the front side B 35 yard line. There appeared to be a hole in the diagonal on the 50 yard line. This band had three auxiliary members with white tops and black skirts. The woodwinds at the front of the diagonal begin with an unsure step-off. The music is timid, with some wind players playing more than others. Alright, I am beginning to see some improvement in the quality of the music and marching as the band moves on. There were problems all over the place. But they got from point A to point B. Yes! Super synthesizer feature that leads to a tender flute solo. Awesome brass and woodwind pass-through! Get a firm grip on the music, no matter where you go or how you get there on the field. The ripple from the front of the diagonal to the back is sufficient. The show ends with movement, rather than music, but it works. Keep getting better. You did fine!
My Score: 46.90
Actual Score: 54.40
My Class Placement: 7th
Actual Class Placement: 7th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 16th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 16th

Costa Mesa High School
Costa Mesa, CA
Program: "Beatle Mesa Mania"
Comments: Their pit was staged in the center of the field with black backdrops in an arc form seeming to act as the spotlight. The battery purcussion is split up, both parts lined up on opposing 45 yard lines. The drummer at the drum set and the electric guitar gets the auxiliary girls "excited," as if they were true Beatles fans. The trumpets lead this band quite well. Watch the starts and stops in terms of movement, people. Excellent marching technique from the piccolos up front, although shoulders could be a little more square to the front. The "We All Live in a Yellow Submarine" tune is simple, yet fun-filled. The auxiliary show off of the end of that tune, highlighting this joyful theme. Okay, stick together to the end of your show! Nice. I like the booming sound at the end of their show, that gives this band "oomph." Overall, this show had numerous spots that shined. Nevertheless, there were still some issues within that need to be addressed. Excellent work connecting with audience.
My Score: 49.70
Actual Score: 63.40
My Class Placement: 5th
Actual Class Placement: 6th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 14th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 14th

Torrance High School
Torrance, CA
Program: "A Day in the Life of a Marching Band"
Comments: Ha ha! I love it. When the announcer asks if the band is ready, one of the wind players cries, "Wait! Wait!" After this he fixes the posture of another member. Too cool. I am glad I had a newspaper with me in my bag, because it started to rain! The first movement from this unit was great. They stand still with legs spread, and blend, blend, blend that sound. The band gets "re-energized" after a water break from a couple of coolers up front. This band is showing some superb presence, despite the fact the weather was taking a turn for the worst. Yes...they nailed that triangle form, and the music that went along with it. Alright. I am writing on water right now. I must stop. Outstanding performance.
My Score: 55.10
Actual Score: 68.50
My Class Placement: 3rd
Actual Class Placement: 2nd
My Overall A/AA Placement: 11th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 9th

Newbury Park High School
Newbury Park, CA
Program: "Mosaic Offering"
Comments: The rain came down now, and I therefore placed my notebook in my backpack. Newbury Park nailed their show, and knew it. (The rain did not bog them down one bit.) During one segment of their program, they boogey. Wow! They play and march with energy that launches them "up there." But it is not just energy that puts them at the top, it is quality. They are full of "attempts" they meet with much success. The rest of out, because they are coming!
My Score: 67.90
Actual Score: 78.35
My Class Placement: 1st
Actual Class Placement: 1st
My Overall A/AA Placement: 5th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 5th

Redlands High School
Redlands, CA
Program: "Shostakovich, Symphony #5"
Comments: The rain has let up quite a bit. Right now I am able to write in my notebook. The band sets up in a jagged, horizontal line. Way to be on top of this complex music, guys! At times, certain sections of the band were so loud that it seemed to take away from other sections wanting to contribute. Two snare drummers going through one hole in a pass-through? This drill needs to be worked out. In the slower movement, ooh trumpets...ooh! Let that air flow smoothly out of that horn. Well done, trumpet and trombone duet. Some not adhereing to one style. Oh my, this band goes bananas with the drill at the end of their show, which is somewhat sloppy, yet exhilarating.
My Score: 56.90
Actual Score: 66.95
My Class Placement: 2nd
Actual Class Placement: 4th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 8th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 11th

Ocean View High School
Huntington Beach, CA
Program: "Bond, James Bond"
Comments: Wow! A stellar set of notes from the low brass section gets this show in gear. Trumpets, you handle that horn very well. These kids have sure mastered the James Bond theme. During the trumpet solo in the second movement, I spotted a crisp hip snap from the wind players near the front. The extra-wide spacing is locked on target at the end of "Live and Let Die." Awesome versatility by a few winds and the battery percussion who operate an outstanding pit feature. Of course, the music this group plays...listener-friendly! (It must be, and it is.) They sold the show with a final, strong company front, and an ending that seems to swell with pride.
My Score: 55.10
Actual Score: 68.45
My Class Placement: 4th
Actual Class Placement: 3rd
My Overall A/AA Placement: 12th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 10th

Canyon Springs High School
Moreno Valley, CA
Program: "Africa-Ceremony, Song, and Ritual"
Comments: The first note from the winds was not as one. The smooth beat from the band is not hard to warm to. The music, which sounds minimalist I think, intensifies in complexity. Make sure those major music hits hit the box at the same time (before that straight line is formed). The music is suffering, somewhat. Aaah, yes. The sound being made now is reeelaxe. Granted, there is little demand in the marching, here, but they are maxing out their music to the fullest. There is that familiar beginning tune that works. Question: Can they do much more with it? Answer: Yes. Keep us guessing, now, keep us guessing! Perhaps be daring, and rewrite some music. Otherwise, keep the music the same...but pump up the drill. Somehow, go all out, and then some, truly!
My Score: 48.00
Actual Score: 66.70
My Class Placement: 6th
Actual Class Placement: 5th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 15th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 12th

Class AA

Aliso Niguel High School
Aliso Viejo, CA
Program: "Carnival"
Comments: Long, black poles set up in an upside down "L" formation seem to halfway enclose this band. The wind players are in a horizontal line in front of the battery (which is also in a horizontal line). The pit is on the field near the side A 40 yard line. Okay, not a bad opening, with movement that sits well with me, except for the flautist who was late in the turn-around. Yes, these woodwinds have their music down quite well. I see some some saxophones expressing great posture with the shoulder angles, and I see saxophones that do not. The percussion feature has depth to it, and the wind players collapse their lines into one single line and seem to use all the counts to get there. Man, it is tough to get that slower music to work for you, especially when it varies in the technical and dynamic areas...but this band survives it with few scratches. The move to the solid vertical line was on the ball. Wow, lots of intricate sound weaved, and weaved well. This band does not have a lot of range, visually. The percussion feature was the "marching showcase." Musically, though, this band was marvelous.
My Score: 70.30
Actual Score: 82.35
My Class Placement: Class A/AA Sweepstakes
Actual Class Placement: 2nd
My Overall A/AA Placement: 1st
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 3rd

Saddleback High School
Santa Ana, CA
Program: "Medusa"
Comments: The first impression this group gave off was actually not bad. A quick note trumpets on side A: spacing is crucial. The percussion section injects some spice into this show immediately. The "trickling down" trumpet sound...awesome. This band had bang to it! The second movement is well intact. The flute sound, which seems like it is in a vacuum, sets an eerie mood now. They only have one mellophone out there, but man can I hear him play! I wish the guard would not cound out loud. Alright! I enjoyed what this band was doing! The percussion was razor sharp during their feature. Trumpets, I like a section that is not afraid to play out. Great work. Do not rush those notes too much. Pay some attention to quality of sound. This band was an exclamation point on the field. (They went all out!) But some tiny issues here and there seemed to hold these kids back. Too much was sacrificed for the "big." They proved they could be big when they need to be, now someone put a saddle and a bridle on this horse!
My Score: 68.00
Actual Score: 82.40
My Class Placement: 3rd
Actual Class Placement: 1st
My Overall A/AA Placement: 4th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 2nd

Buena High School
Ventura, CA
Program: "PRISMS: The Color of Sound"
Comments: The pit, with tie-dye shirts and black pants, were situated on the side A 40 yard line. Oh yeah! I like how some of the screens of the box props around the band switch from light purple to blue. The tubas keep a sure, steady rhythm in the first movement. The cymbal players and bass drum players kneeling in front of the pit look super, and yes, so does a battery percussion and wind player pass-through! Okay, what is going on with the visuality when we get to the drum show? There seems to be some...confusion? The music hangs in there, and hangs in there. Yeeeah, low brass! The lower wind players are in our face, and therefore projection problems none. The end of this show leaves a sweet taste in your mouth. The music ceases alright, and the forms on the field were "A" okay. This show has improved leaps and bounds since the last show I saw them at (at WBA Valley View). They seem to be on the right track. Keep up the great work!
My Score: 56.60
Actual Score: 71.25
My Class Placement: 7th
Actual Class Placement: 6th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 10th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 8th

Sanger High School
Sanger, CA
Program: "Spanish Fantasy
Comments: The musicians wear brilliant red uniforms. The trumpets are thrust into the music spotlight, and manage pretty well. The trombone solo keeps the music alive as well. Okay, this show is not a trumpet show, is it? Where is the rest of the band? Oh, here they are. The tubas and bari saxes turn to face front at one point in the show and yes, their performance delivered! This show moves at an even pace. Sure, you can sound good with little or no movement. Let us see some legs scissoring at an explosive pace. Alright, the two opposing triangle formations were clear to me, now. Keep the forms. Starts and stops to movement were way off. (Work on starts and stops to movement big time, and you should see some dramatic improvement.) Okay, this show was rough from the start, but despite this roughness they had handfuls of "moments."
My Score: 50.50
Actual Score: 58.10
My Class Placement: 8th
Actual Class Placement: 8th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 13th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 15th

Fallbrook High School
Fallbrook, CA
Program: "Impressions of Faith and Fantasy"
Comments: I really like how the auxiliary are in "hibernation" mode on the grass. (They have flags on the ground with them.) A soft, mysterious sound is projected onto the backfield bleachers. The guard that "come to life" fits well with the sound. I thought the opening notes from this group could be more precise. Control in music and marching is definitely there. The show drifts well, but I hope it does not "drift away." The movement out of the pods was carried out with no stick-outs. What an incredibly gentle ballad. Ah ha! Great fake-out mesh, and then they go through with it. Yes! Awesome starts and stops to movement! The music does get wavery at times, so that means they need to let a full, non-stop stream of air go through the horn. The ending of the show has many wedges that come to form a box that ultimately becomes a rhombus. This show was accurate, but was it exciting? This show did not engage me like some of the other shows in their class. My feelings are that they did the job they set out to do, but did not crush limits in terms of show concept, and a band succeeding on the minimum is simply a band succeeding on the minimum. I hope they make many musical and visual changes come their last show.
My Score: 69.00
Actual Score: 82.48
My Class Placement: 2nd
Actual Class Placement: Class A/AA Sweepstakes
My Overall A/AA Placement: 3rd
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 1st

Ridgeview High School
Bakersfield, CA
Program: "The New World Symphony"
Comments: This band had gold helmets with black plumes, purple, black, and gold tops, and black pants. The horns need to come up at the same time, kids. Sweet start to a sweet show. I like the horn angle move at the beginning of the show. This group brought a wholesome sound to the field. At certain times...the notes are out of whack. The should strive to keep the blend from top to bottom going until the show is complete. The second movement has a sly drum groove that does not interfere too much with the sound from this band as a whole. I am impressed with the spacing. Alright1 The "Jaws-like" sawing music into the next movement is done nicely. there are lots of great things going on with the drill, including a side-stepping block that I am more impressed with how they got into it rather than what they do when they are in it. Uh-oh! Okay, more attention is needed on finale notes.
My Score: 65.90
Actual Score: 75.95
My Class Placement: 4th
Actual Class Placement: 4th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 6th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 6th

Pacifica High School
Garden Grove, CA
Program: "Pandora's Box"
Comments: Four auxiliary members are holding white feathered boas on four corners of a box. The maneuvering of the tight box of members that slowly disentigrates convinced me. The first few phrases from this group did not convince me enough, though. Perhaps the balance was awry. Way to back up the brass, synth! The sound just rails the stands. Trumpets...maybe hold back just a tad bit, somehow. I like how you cut through to us with your song, though. The auxiliary member popping out of the box seemed slightly off balance, but perhaps I perceived this wrong. Oh yeah, percussion! Talk about total control in regards to drumming. Ooh, the trumpets sound like they are struggling a bit near the end. I like the criss-cross drill that has one set of winds jazz running, while another set march common, and then one set of winds twist around and lock...lock to form a block. This is a great show, with lots of twists, but no matter what they do they have to tighten the screws on that sound.
My Score: 69.80
Actual Score: 81.75
My Class Placement: 1st
Actual Class Placement: 3rd
My Overall A/AA Placement: 2nd
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 4th

Huntington Beach High School
Huntington Beach, CA
Program: "Russian Festival"
Comments: The opening trumpet fanfare is powerful. The trumpet soloist does not nail his solo, but it the attempt was not bad. Woah, lots of notes you have to get a grip on, high brass. Alright, decent, decent. Uh-oh...notes are all over the place now. Good. You got a lock on that. Visually, this band was fine. I like the slow down into the triangle formation that glued together at the right time and place. The baritone solo was hefty, uplifting. The hammer and sickels that were manipulated by the Russian-clothed guard was neato. The tuba duet...ooh, a trombone player almost slipped, but regained his footing! The end of this shwo was sure, with a wholesome sound that capitalized, capitalized, capitalized on what they were out there to do. The bringing of the horns down made a welcome statement. Great job, guys!
My Score: 64.90
Actual Score: 73.13
My Class Placement: 5th
Actual Class Placement: 5th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 7th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 7th

Highland High School
Palmdale, CA
Program: "A Ring Within a Ring"
Comments: The sound of wind is herd, and then a taste of music from the "Lord of the Rings" movie. There was not enough focus on field usage. The whole show was staged front, center field! Great snap of the horns down when they get in to that tight block. I acknowledged the saxophones with a nod of the head. The saxophones cut through the others to create more drama. What a moody piece of music! This band tends to do "dark shows," and this show was as dark as what they wore. Okay, I see now the band is expanding a bit in range in terms of location. The percussion feature demonstrates they can move and move great when they need to. The mix of "Lord of the Rings" music (from De Meij, I think, and the movies) works well. The end was rushed, and did not give me the pleasure of hearing their sound stay in the air for awhile. They had the easy stuff let us get physical, boys and girls, let us get physical!
My Score: 56.70
Actual Score: 65.85
My Class Placement: 6th
Actual Class Placement: 7th
My Overall A/AA Placement: 9th
Actual Overall A/AA Placement: 13th

Class AAA

Silverado High School
Las Vegas, NV
Program: "Music for the Royals"
Comments: Taking the field in a spiral type formation were the winds and percussion in turquoise, black, and siler. I was impressed by how straight the flags were (parallel to the ground) before the show began. This group had a hearty sound to it. Some flutes were out of step during the silent portion of the first movement. The woodwinds kneeling during the saxophone solo did not look organized, but the auxiliary had their routine down pat. Great work mellophones, bringing out that line of music during the second movement. Trumpets, get a little closer to the flutes coming around that curve. The girls working the flags were fan-tas-tic. This show moved at a steady pace, yet did not venture out of its mold. I wanted to see some action, not from the auxiliary, but from the winds and percussion. Where was the spark to my mind? Ah yes! I like the form rotation, and the big blast of sound at the end. Too little, too late, though? Perhaps. Their show was average at best, but they were here, which is enough for me!
My Score: 65.00
Actual Score: 75.34
My Class Placement: 10th
Actual Class Placement: 9th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 16th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 17th

Clovis East High School
Fresno, CA
Program: "The Four Elements - Fire, Earth, Wind and Water"
Comments: I like how the auxiliary are situated within the cavities of the band, and then come alive with the sounds of the low brass. The seemingly everlasting rotations on the right side of the field with the brass looks fine. The tuba solo is great, but the brass response is somewhat off. This band knows how to party hard in terms of music. Great freeze of the body, color guard, at the end of that. The melodies this group brings forth are clean...and easy to listen to. The drumline slaps their drums in unison to start "their" show. (Great ducking move by the band during that.) Rifle toss by the guard when the wind players are in swooping arc forms needs to be there. (There was a drop.) Excellent way to end the show, with two tight blocks and the curved forms behind. The end was not as momentous as it could have been. I almost thought they would play another tune, but the drum major turned around and gave a salute, so that is that.
My Score: 67.40
Actual Score: 77.05
My Class Placement: 8th
Actual Class Placement: 8th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 14th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 14th

Valley View High School
Moreno Valley, CA
Program: "Eye of the Storm"
Comments: The wind players are in different pods across the field, and sway side to side slightly, like being blown by the wind. The auxiliary pop out of nowhere, then the wind players jazz run with arms open. No band gives me goose bumps like this band. The end form of the first movement had one line crooked. Oh yeah! I love the trumpet up and down swing of notes, and then the piercing sound of the woodwinds. (This one-two punch is a winner.) Such musicianship! The ballad has middle horns, maximum visuals, and then the drums...the drums, the drums, the drums. The "SOS" sound from the synth is cool, and comes right before the percussion feature. This band has everything I have been waiting to see Oh my. Oh my. Niiice. The circle form jazz running within the square form is "must-see." Look for these kids in WBA prelims *and* finals. And if they are not in finals...mark my words, they'll be close! If they clean up the drill, they will be up there.
My Score: 83.00
Actual Score: 84.99
My Class Placement: 2nd
Actual Class Placement: 1st
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 6th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 9th

West High School
Bakersfield, CA
Program: "Resurgam - We Shall Rise Again"
Comments: I like the pillar props that seem to have cracks in them, but these babies needs some lids. Otherwise, they like toilet paper roles. Excellent send off in the zig-zag form, and the back and forth brass calls. At times there are some members that stick out sound-wise. (Trumpet? Anyone?) The flute solo, followed by the uneasy woodwind trilling, was right on. Ensemble sound, ensemble sound. Where shall I start? No raspy sounding horns in the ballad from now on, okay? The move into the rhombus is okay, but after The clarity needs to be immaculate. The criss-crossing vertical lines upwards and downwards looked nice-and-neat. That's better! Alright. Line rotations, and then a powerhouse sound from them. Where was the powerhouse sound earlier? This show kind of creeps up on you 'till the end.
My Score: 67.60
Actual Score: 74.83
My Class Placement: 7th
Actual Class Placement: 10th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 13th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 16th

Nogales High School
La Puente, CA
Program: "Music of David Holsinger" including "Abrams Persuit," "Tapestry II," and "Tapestry III"
Comments: A condensed block of brass players are up front between the side A 45 and 50 yard lines. The woodwinds in the right portion of the field do a number of different style criss-cross maneuvers. The music seemed in the slot. Awesome marching at odd times sigs, and then a fantastic job with the combined single and double time marching. These kids take off their gloves when they go out to fight. Their first movement, in my opinion, is success. During the ballad, I absorbed the beauty the music brought. This lovely music was via standstill, but...acceptable. Synthesizer player, do not shake your head. (It gives the impression something is going wrong in the pit.) Wow! What a show. This band moves, and moves, and moves. Some of the criss-crossing lines were jagged throughout the show, but this is nothing they cannot take care of. Overall, this show had bite to it, and had essentials to recognize them for.
My Score: 76.00
Actual Score: 84.89
My Class Placement: 4th
Actual Class Placement: 4th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 10th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 10th

Cerritos High School
Cerritos, CA
Program: "Sinfonia Voci"
Comments: This band assumed a diamond form, with flags interspersed within and without. The trumpets are harsh, man, harsh! This band gets in first gear relatively soon. It seems this show is in the groove. I noticed a sweet rifle "click" that reflected the musical points. They play quite aggressively, quite aggressively. What a contrast this aggressive nature is in the second movement, though. Flutes, keep those shoulders square to the back sideline during the backfield feature. I could not heart the synth well enough during the percussion feature. Turn it up! The drum break rocks! The end of the show is fast, and loud, and all that jazz. But I wonder if their brash style will hold them back? They have a lot going for them, especially in the area of percussion.
My Score: 74.10
Actual Score: 80.47
My Class Placement: 6th
Actual Class Placement: 7th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 12th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 13th

Rancho Cucamonga High School
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Program: "Metallic Blueprints"
Comments: The percussion strikes a chord, and puts the auxiliary in motion. The clanging notes sounded like clanging metal (which fit the theme of the show well, of course!). The auxiliary is on fire with those rifles! After the brass in the diamond form kick out their visual move, their musical move is somewhat lesser. Do not let that great sound evaporate! The middle horn and the two trumpets on the metal platforms produce a "hazy" sound. Then whole band gets in on this atmospheric stuff that makes this show tick like a clock. The auxiliary display incredible control during the percussion feature. The percussionists, too, by the way, do the same. The tapping on the metal props rules. Ooh! Make that music happen, winds. The show ends at a high point, I think, with auxiliary members high atop the metal structures striking a pose. Not bad. Not bad.
My Score: 75.00
Actual Score: 82.45
My Class Placement: 5th
Actual Class Placement: 5th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 11th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 11th

Palmdale High School
Palmdale, CA
Program: "Heartbeat"
Comments: A huge bass drum in the back field is tapped like heart beat. The low brass creeps forth with their notes. Great surprise with the volume change. Brass players in the backfield, nice recovery with the adjustment in spacing...that was nice. Woodwinds, great work sticking to that music. The sound is soft, gentle, flowing, and...lush? No, not lush. The truth is they do not go overboard in the slow parts, though. However, they may be too restrained at times, I think, so...I do not want to drift off, you know what I mean? The next movement is the wake-up call I have been waiting for. The heart is started, no? The end of this show is strong. Maybe it is just me, but maybe this show is just too reserved. This band works hard, but something...I do not know what...not happening. This band should keep cleaning their show to death.
My Score: 63.90
Actual Score: 71.73
My Class Placement: 11th
Actual Class Placement: 11th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 17th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 17th

Trabuco Hills High School
Mission Viejo, CA
Program: "Turbulent Air"
Comments: Amazing. The first form of the show is picture perfect. Someone taught them how to set a form very, very well. The collapsing line in the beginning hits the mark right at the right time. I like the electronic sounding synthesizer. The articulation in the music is superb. And forms, forms, forms! I cannot write enough how great these kids look on the field, both as individuals and as an ensemble. The second movement is sparkling magic (the sparkling not just coming from the silver sashes). The next movement, played backfield, is rapid-fire viscious. Great stuff! The turnaround, with the swell of sound at one point... I am sorry. I am hypnotized by them! The spinning circles on the left side of the field with the stellar company front was the best part of their show, hands down. This show was clean-cut. Almost too clean-cut. What a fantastic performance.
My Score: 82.30
Actual Score: 85.56
My Class Placement: 3rd
Actual Class Placement: 2nd
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 8th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 8th

Green Valley High School
Henderson, NV
Program: "Tango Variations"
Comments: The auxiliary performance on the red and white checkered tarp was splendid...simply splendid. The entrance of the wind players was off somewhat. In movement, way to maintain the forms. The first section of the show is kind of sort of sluggish, but picks up during a short drum break. Good! Get those lunges in there. Trumpets, excellent job at "splattering" some of the notes, and also neat sound wave happening with notes exchanged left and right. That high rifle toss seemed like it took forever to come down, and it was caught with superior precision. Later, the rifle section does a pass-through with some of the brass, and that looks mighty fine. The violin and accordian players in the pit are jamming near the end of the show. The band finishes this show with delicate style and ease. Excellent.
My Score: 66.80
Actual Score: 82.35
My Class Placement: 9th
Actual Class Placement: 6th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 15th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 12th

El Toro High School
Lake Forest, CA
Program: "540 Seconds of Electricity"
Comments: The band is set in a swooping, curved form on the field. I like the blade-like plumes on the shakos, which gives them a somewhat invincible presence. The mellophone solo is executed with some finesse, and then soon there are two mellos going. What a sizzling opening act. Holy guacamole! These kids are tearing up the field with music and motion. I see some holes in the forms (that I assume are absent members, no?). Whatever the case may be with the holes, they hold their forms quite well. Geez. That last note before the sabre solos rang in my eardrum for awhile. My goodness, the auxiliary is like a machine. (They do not make mistakes, it seems!) Flute player up front, do not turn your head to see where you are going. (Hint: employ peripheral vision.) Oh my, are these kids are a force to be reckoned with or what?
My Score: 84.50
Actual Score: 85.95
My Class Placement: 1st
Actual Class Placement: 1st
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 5th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 6th

Class AAAA

Etiwanda High School
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Program: "XpressivO: Contrast and Contradiction"
Comments: Criss-crossing strips of white tarp are placed on the field in a rough diamond shape. The wind players are set up on the tarps, as well as the battery percussion. The initial arm exertion, followed by the move into the diamond was alright. There were a few trumpet stick-outs, though. The banging and clanging in the pit seemed to cover up the woodwinds. The head-tilt was a nice touch to end the first movement. Oh yeah, the robo-move by the wind players during the top notch percussion break was marvelous. The drummers sealed the deal, alright. One of the movements ended mysteriously enough, with a trumpet squeal adding the finishing touches. Wow, lots of people out of step in the backwards motion, there. Great sabre toss! And now we are in yet another part of the show. The trumpets have some complex phrases. Darn it! It is starting to rain again! (At this point the notebook is closed and put away for the rest of the field show tournament, even though it was barely raining for one or two of the performances in this class.) Etiwanda had a spectacular performance. No, they were not "perfect." (In fact, they were far from it.) But they had all the keys to win. Their concept was fully fleshed, and these kids understood it completely.
My Score: 88.00
Actual Score: 93.68
My Class Placement: Class AAA/AAAA Sweepstakes
Actual Class Placement: Class AAA/AAAA Sweepstakes
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 1st
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 1st

Upland High School
Upland, CA
Program: "Fragments"
Comments: Rain did not stop these super performers from performing. When I think back to this show, the one aspect about this show that sticks out in my mind more than any other is the music. This band has always received respect for their sound. The minimalist sounds at the start of the show gives the impression they are always playing (and they are!), and that they are playing without bumps, breaks, or biffs is not easy at all. Upland succeeds with their music, but seem slightly weaker in drill. I noticed lots of forms not locking, but...this may be attributed to the rain. It is difficult to watch A) The drum major, and B) Your surroundings (and therefore your drill headings) when rain falls. The streaks of wet can get in your eyes, your glasses, your mouth...and it does not help. (Rain will also cause some to be more cautious than others.) Now, does rain affect the results? Hmmm, I think, no. But, weather should always be factored at events. I will admit that being stuck out in the rain may have changed my view of the band, whereas the judges all snug as a bug in the box *may not* have changed their view of the band.
My Score: 84.90
Actual Score: 90.58
My Class Placement: 3rd
Actual Class Placement: 3rd
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 4th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 4th

Mission Viejo High School
Mission Viejo, CA
Program: "El Salon Mexico"
Comments: Another wet performance. Mission Viejo rules, with excellently executed sounds from all parts of their band...especially the percussion. I believe I have mentioned they are "the future of marching band," and I stand by my words. All you need to do is close your eyes and hear the gun shots sounds made by the synth to "believe" you are in another place and time. The only thing they lack is DEMAND IN MOVEMENT. Mission is vulneralbe if Mission is outmaneuvered. However, after listening to this band, you could believe this band could win with *just* their sound. (This may be true.) Mission will continue to grow and grow, and will be a force to deal with at the WBA Championships.
My Score: 87.00
Actual Score: 92.73
My Class Placement: 2nd
Actual Class Placement: 1st
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 3rd
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 2nd

Ruben S. Ayala High School
Chino Hills, CA
Program: An American Autumn
Comments: Rain, rain, go away. Come on back another day! Ruben S. Ayala got wet, too. Like Mission Viejo, Ruben S. Ayala was a "music power." They did not have a glamerous visual performance, and we could come up with reasons why. But what happened, happened. I really, really like their show this year. I think they have the perfect combination of musicians and auxiliary, which will pump up their General Effect. They just need to hang in there, and perform their last show like it was no doubt their best performance ever.
My Score: 87.70
Actual Score: 92.60
My Class Placement: 1st
Actual Class Placement: 2nd
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 2nd
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 3rd

Poway High School
Poway, CA
Program: "The Danse"
Comments: Poway got rained on, also. This band may be big, but bigger does not always mean better. This band is doing Saucedo music, which is really interesting to listen to. But no matter what music you give your kids, if their music suffers, so will the show. Poway, in music, is simply not "on par" with bands like Mission Viejo, Upland, and Ruben S. Ayala. In terms of visual performance, individual visual is not bad, but ensemble visual lacks hard stuff. Yeah, you saw that. "Hard stuff." I mean demand, challenge, it what you want. But even though Poway has little time before WBA prelims (or finals) to "update," I hope they start working, working, working *now* on next year's show. I have faith in Poway. I know they can be great. They have been great before. I think they will be great again. They just need to do some research on what makes a Western Band Association band great, and try to aim for that. We will see. I applaud them for what they are doing this year. I want to applaud them more for what they do next year. But it ain't over 'till it's over! (Maybe they have a trick or two in their bag.)
My Score: 81.50
Actual Score: 85.60
My Class Placement: 5th
Actual Class Placement: 5th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 9th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 7th

Fountain Valley High School
Fountain Valley, CA
Program: "Music from Carmina Burana"
Comments: The rain held off on this band. Fountain Valley has lots of fluff in their show, but it is pure substance that counts the most. Yeah, the music is huge, the choir is stunning to see and hear, and visual is optimum. But how do they do? Well, they sound okay (at times). Their marching is average, although I saw some nasty individual technique. You see? Quality, not quantity. Fountain Valley has to really work the music. (Maybe "turn up" the volume on the choir?) And they also need to focus on the individuals, rather than the ensemble. I guarentee them, if the individuals look better, the ensemble will look better. Start from the bottom, and work your way up (like the rest). By the way, even though this show has been done to death by other bands, Fountain Valley takes a fresh approach to it. Check them out if you get the chance. It is rare to see a high school marching band in with a choir.
My Score: 82.70
Actual Score: 88.09
My Class Placement: 4th
Actual Class Placement: 4th
My Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 7th
Actual Overall AAA/AAAA Placement: 5th

Despite the weather, the every high school marching band performed. There were no big surprises in the scores and placements, except for perhaps Class AA. However, in Class AA the champ did not win by much. This was a very well-run show, with helpful, intelligent, and courteous Trabuco Hills High School Marching Band folks to make it happen. I hope my review was to your liking. I hope all of you to go to Fresno to see California's most exciting field show tournament: The Western Band Association Championships. Have a great week!


Alan Irons
Fountain Valley High School Marching Band 1993-1996
Pacific Crest of Diamond Bar 1997
Nashua Spartans 1998-1999
UCSB Class of 2002.

Author:  Wildbill [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 9:51 am ]
Post subject: 


Thank you for a great review; wonderful, as usual.


Author:  jacjar1 [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  I like your Style

Wildbill wrote:

Thank you for a great review; wonderful, as usual.



Another review that tells it like it is without demeaning the kids. Thanks

Author:  gangemi [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:28 am ]
Post subject: 

Alan...thanks for the nice words about Newbury Park. Those kids have come a million miles since Band Camp, and they truly are a pleasure to work with. It was a fun book to arrange (from the band director's compositions), and the kids perform it really well.

Again, thanks for the nice words.

Mike Gangemi
Assistant Director of Bands
Westlake High School
Hornline Tech/Arranger
Newbury Park High School

Author:  Wildabeast [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 5:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Review: WBA Trabuco Hills

airons0678 wrote:
Mission will continue to grow and grow, and will be a force to deal with at the WBA Championships.

Mission is ALREADY a force having won it all in 1998 after placing 3rd in prelims behind Etiwanda and James Logan. The next couple years after, they were 2nd.

Percussion, perhaps their strongest attribute, was the 2001 WGI Scholastic World Class Champion.

Author:  rickyric [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Review: WBA Trabuco Hills

Good overall recap Alan. Never met you, but your comments are constructive and complementary for the most part. You spent alot of time on this and that is cool for the kids that perform and work hard each week. They deserve alot of applause for their hard work be it for what ever place their band acheives. I hope alot of you can make it to SCSBOA Tournament as well, it will truly be a good show. Cold weather is in store for both events so everyone dress warm and enjoy the good performances at both locations. It will be the last for many of them until next year. I hope the crowds understand this and give all of the participants the needed applause like they do at BOA Grand Nationals. The crowd is encouraged to stand and clap for each group. They all deserve a standing "O" at WBA and SCSBOA. :lol: :D

Author:  airons0678 [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

smd89 wrote:
So by your post i take it that you agree with the mind numbing ten point spread inbetween 1st and 2nd in 1A?


smd89 wrote:
Can you tell me what reasons caused you to think there should be this spread?

Sure! I have seen Newbury Park High School twice, and they been by far above and beyond every band in their division (and some bands in the upper divisions). I would go so far as to claim they are the best band of their size in southern California.

Now, let me get into further detail on what makes this band great:

A) In music, Newbury Park excels with their well balanced sound top to bottom. Because this band focuses on their music as a team and not as individuals, they sound "huge." But this band also has a great handle on control, so they can be as soft or loud as they need to be. One example of how well controlled they are: I do not know if you are familiar with their show, but during one segment the band is standing in relaxed stance, tearing down the bleachers with their music. Well, they control the dynamics with finesse. There is a point where you think they will go over the top with their sound...but they do not.

B) In visual, Newbury Park has one of the most demanding shows for their size, and makes it look like a piece of cake. Their "show" starts when they take the field, and when they do they demonstrate they will win or come close to winning with their uniform marching technique. (Their legs lock on the forward stride at a precise step size). They use much of the field for their drill. They perform difficult manuevers well, and I can not think of one off-hand (but I do think they do have a blind pass-through or two). I know they have a few dance moves in their show that could be classified as "upper level." Individually, these kids look like machines. Have you seen the posture of these kids? You can barely see their upper bodies move when their lower bodies move, and this of course helps them with their sound.

C) Their general effect is complimented by their music and visual performance. This little band gave me goose bumps! If a band the size of Newbury Park can move you the way they do, they are in great shape.

Hmmm...what else. Well, I guess the best way to find out reasons for the spread would be to see them for yourself, or ask others why they are so great. I am sure you will get similar responses.

Since I really was not able to write an adequate commentary for them at the WBA Trabuco Hills show, I will repost the commentary for them at the WBA Valley View show. (This will give you a better idea on what they are "like.") Here it is:


Newbury Park High School
Newbury Park, CA
Program: Mosaic Offering
Comments: The members on the field were set up in separate pods, and did not move a muscle until the command was given (although a few auxiliary members were noticeably moving their heads). The first "hits" from this group were right on! Super work by the woodwinds during their soli. I like the crawling rifle members and the duo movement of the rifles and the flags. What a strong first movement! The second movement is more playful, with the saxophones up front doing a kind of two-step dance. Wow, this Class A band has it all! A loud, jamming feature with the girl in the pit working her cymbal like crazy, a masterfully played baritone solo, and dance movement by the winds that was very well coordinated. In my opinion, this band is the first "must-see" Class A band of the year. The ray formations in the far left corner of the field during the baritone solo movement were sweet. Nice leg lift from the winds during the percussion feature. The percussion feature ends solidly, and then there was the company front, which I felt could have been stronger sound-wise. Why are some Class A bands afraid to use ELECTRONICS? A little boom here and there wouldn't hurt. The ending of their show had the wind players in an arc formation that was pretty clean, and of course the slamming of the flags down to the grass was quite powerful. I like the fact that the music to their show was familiar, yet twisted to their own (and to my own) liking. They made this show their own, and did not let up in the slightest. They were definite contenders for the top spot here at the Crimson Classic.


I hope this helps!

Alan Irons
Fountain Valley High School Marching Band 1993-1996
Pacific Crest of Diamond Bar 1997
Nashua Spartans 1998-1999
UCSB Class of 2002

Author:  airons0678 [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Review: WBA Trabuco Hills

Wildabeast wrote:
airons0678 wrote:
Mission will continue to grow and grow, and will be a force to deal with at the WBA Championships.

Mission is ALREADY a force having won it all in 1998 after placing 3rd in prelims behind Etiwanda and James Logan. The next couple years after, they were 2nd.

Percussion, perhaps their strongest attribute, was the 2001 WGI Scholastic World Class Champion.

My appologies! I should have been more specific. I was referring to *this* year and this year only. They have come far, from being in 4th place at Costa Mesa, to being in 1st place at Valley View (below Ayala), to being in 1st place at WBA Trabuco Hills (above Ayala, and below Etiwanda). This is the "growth" I was referring to. As far as them being a "force," I will admit that I did not think that they would ever top Ayala this year after the WBA Costa Mesa and WBA Valley View shows...or even Upland (although Upland has been up and down this year). So yes, Mission Viejo will be a group to reckon with this year at the WBA Championships.

Alan Irons
Fountain Valley High School Marching Band 1993-1996
Pacific Crest of Diamond Bar 1997
Nashua Spartans 1998-1999
UCSB Class of 2002

Author:  airons0678 [ Wed Nov 19, 2003 11:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Review: WBA Trabuco Hills

Before I address this response, my thanks to everyone for the compliments on my review.

rickyric wrote:
Cold weather is in store for both events so everyone dress warm and enjoy the good performances at both locations. It will be the last for many of them until next year. I hope the crowds understand this and give all of the participants the needed applause like they do at BOA Grand Nationals. The crowd is encouraged to stand and clap for each group. They all deserve a standing "O" at WBA and SCSBOA. :lol: :D

rickyric, I could not agree with you more. If there are any "spectators" out there reading this, please stand and clap for *every* group, whether it be at the WBA Championships or the SCSBOA Championships. (Every student who performs deserves it.)

Alan Irons
Fountain Valley High School Marching Band 1993-1996
Pacific Crest of Diamond Bar 1997
Nashua Spartans 1998-1999
UCSB Class of 2002

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