Band ends season on a high note despite not making finals

November 16, 2018 — by Andrew Li and Jeffrey Ma

With the conclusion of the SoCal Bands of America tournament on Nov. 3 at Los Angeles Valley College, the marching band’s season is officially over.

Although the tournament was only a one-day event, logistics required a three-day trip, so the band left early in the morning of Friday, Nov. 2, for the drive down to Arcadia.

Preliminary rounds of the tournament, where the band competed against 20 other bands, occurred the next day and were followed by finals in the evening. The marching band was placed in Class AA based on the school’s size and won the division, but ultimately failed to place top 10 overall, meaning it also narrowly missed finals; instead, the band performed in an exhibition performance that other division-topping bands who fell short of qualifying for finals also participated in.

Director Jason Shiuan said the band faced some challenging conditions. These included a shorter-than-usual field and poor acoustics that absorbed the band’s sound. Coupled with the high temperatures throughout the preliminary performances, the conditions gave the show a cramped and constricted feel.

“We sounded really soft, and it sounded like we have very little energy,” Shiuan said. “We cannot produce the big sound some other bands are producing. I think our show works better in the nighttime, as it comes more to life.”

Despite failing to qualify for finals, Shiuan was pleased with the band’s performance, especially since the band finished learning the entire show roughly a week after the Northern California Bands of America tournament on Oct. 20.

“I could see how we had low energy, but I was very happy because even a week before, it was a totally different show, and we evolved the show into a very beautiful product,” Shiuan said.

The band’s performance at the NorCal tournament at Diablo Valley College was commended by the judges even though it was incomplete; additionally, the distance between the field and the audience was larger, leading to a better performance musically than at the Southern California tournament.

Shiuan said the somewhat disappointing results in Arcadia did not change the tournament’s role as both a great experience and great way to cap off the season.

For sophomore sousaphone player Isaac Sun, the tournament also mattered more than the results. He said that SoCal was a good way to experience competing against “powerhouse bands,” and he is looking forward to more competitions next season.

In the end, Ayala High School won first place in finals, Vista Murrieta High won second and Etiwanda High won third.

Shiuan was pleased with the season, regardless of the last competition’s results.

“What’s really important for me is that we walk off the field feeling proud and excited that we did something great,” Shiuan said.

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