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Jun 4, 2018 3:28 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Middle Schoolers Win First-Place Awards At Music Festival In Pennsylvania

The Concert Band plays
Jun 5, 2018 9:36 AM

Andrew Oh, an eighth-grader at Hampton Bays Middle School, was at a loss for words on Saturday, May 19, when he found out that four of the school’s music ensembles won first place at the Music in the Parks competition in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.“It was very exciting,” Andrew said on Friday, recalling the emotions he felt every time the school’s name was announced as a first-place winner during the competition.

“I didn’t know how to feel, I didn’t know what to say—I didn’t expect any of this,” he said during a recent interview at the school, motioning toward the five trophies beside him. Andrew plays oboe in concert band and baritone saxophone in jazz band.

“It was really gratifying that all of our hard work would come to this end,” Andrew’s bandmate and fellow saxophone player Nicholas Zbikowski added. The eighth-grader is also a baritone in the concert choir. “We were working as a team to get this done,” he said.

Music in the Parks is an annual, day-long festival, in which musical groups perform before judges who rate the performance based on a point system, awarding each group a rating of good, excellent, or superior, according to Choral Director Carolanne Mazur.

She added that the Hampton Bays Middle School’s seventh and eighth grade band, jazz band, chorus and Harmonizers—the school’s select choir—beat 14 choral and 13 instrumental ensembles to bring home the five trophies. All four ensembles received “excellent” ratings.

The concert band, made up of 72 students, 54 of whom participated in the competition, won the best overall middle school band award. Additionally, eighth grade Harmonizer Samantha Coulton won best overall vocalist for her solo in the group’s rendition of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” by Ella Fitzgerald and Van Alexander.

In all, 102 students participated in the festival, with some participating in more than one ensemble.

“Music is a way to express myself without words,” eighth grade pianist and alto singer Kristina Georges said. “It’s a universal language so anyone can understand the feelings you put into it.”

Leading up to the competition, the concert band and choir met three times a week to prepare their set lists. The jazz band and the Harmonizers met twice a week, Ms. Mazur said. She added that each group performed three songs—the first of which was not judged.

With emotions running high, 48 concert choir students took a deep breath and performed “Down By the Riverside” by Kirby Shaw, “A Joyful Song” by Mary Lynn Lightfoot, and “Blessing” by Katie Moran Bart.

In addition to “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” the Harmonizers sang “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” and “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” by Billy Joel.

The concert band played “A Hymn for Band” by Hugh Stuart, and “Into the Clouds!” by Richard Saucedo, while the jazz band performed “Birdland” by Michael Sweeney and “Caribbean Dance” by Victor Lopez.

After their performances, the groups were bused to Hershey Park to unwind.

“We’ve been practicing really hard, and I think we did exceedingly well,” Andrew said. “Overall, it was a really good experience.”

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