Mid Island Band Festival
sayville.com - 2/5/2012
Mid Island Band celebrated its
fifty-fourth annual festival on January 28th. This grueling,
all weekend long festival consists of six schools (Sayville,
Hauppauge, Patchogue/Medford, Port Jefferson, and Sachem
North and East) coming together to rehearse, and ultimately,
perform one magnificent concert. Each year, the band is
conducted by a different special guest, and this year the
108 selected students had the honor of working with Chief
Warrant Officer 3, Mark L. Kimes.
Mark Kimes is currently the conductor of the Hauppauge High
School Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, and Vocal Jazz
Ensemble. In addition, he serves as the Conductor and
Commander of the 42nd Infantry Division Band of the New York
Army National Guard. In 2005, he led his band through the
Iraqi war zone while completing musical and security
missions. What made this U.S. band so distinct, was that it
was the first reserve component band to be sent into a war
zone since the Korean War. In the end, Kimes was not only
able to successfully do his job, but also return his entire
band home safe and sound.
The festival began on a Friday, January 27th, when the
students left their schools with music and instruments in
tow as they head to this year’s host school, Hauppauge High
School. Rehearsal for this anxious crowd started at 2:30pm,
when they met their conductor and did a simple run through
the program. The rest of the night was spent on correcting
rhythmical mistakes, working on intonation, and upping the
speeds of the pieces. For these hardworking musicians, this
was only the beginning. The group was up, bright and early,
the next morning for rehearsal round two. Kimes was
confident that the students would be able to execute his
ambitious program with excitement and near perfection, which
was saying a lot with the small allotted time they had
On the night of the concert, Kimes prediction was far
exceeded. The band of young musicians played to the best of
their abilities and their long rehearsals surely paid off.
The concert opened with “The Star Spangled Banner” arranged
by Jack Stamp, and was specially conducted by Sayville’s
Peter DeSalvo, who will be retiring at the end of this year.
This well known song started softly with just the bass
clarinets, bassoons, and clarinets. Then, it grew louder
until the climactic moment when the trumpet’s sound was
soaring high above the band and filling the auditorium with
the beautiful patriotic melody. The intensity the group
played with was incredibly moving and a perfect opening.
The next two songs, “To Dance in the Secret Garden” by
Robert W. Smith and “Pirates!” by Travis J. Weller, were fun
songs that the audience could really get into. The Secret
Garden was a cute upbeat song with solos for each of the
instruments, and Sayville students played them all. This was
due to fact that they won the first chair positions in their
seating auditions. “Pirates,” on the other hand, was made up
of three movements that sure did shiver me timbers, as any
good pirate would say. They were haunting and engaging.
The second to last song was “Each Time You Tell Their
Story,” by Samuel L. Haze. This one was the most emotional
piece of the entire program. It was beautifully played, soft
and tender, and in the middle, the band dropped out except
for a lone snare drum who played tight rolls as a poem was
being read aloud. It started with “Not everyone chooses to
die…” and continued to talk about losing a loved one due to
war. The piece ended with the entire auditorium silent
except for the lingering wind chimes. It sent chills down
the spine and tears down the cheek; it was simply beautiful.
The final song of the first half “Selections from
CHICAGO” arranged by Ted Ricketts was definitely a crowd
favorite. Who could resist tapping their foot along to “All
That Jazz,” “My Own Best Friend,” and “Razzle Dazzle”?
After a brief intermission, the band started with “Cambrian
Explosion” by Richard L. Saucedo. This thrilling tune
started with mallets and a booming timpani solo, before the
trumpets came in. Shortly after, a quirky, jazzy, clarinet
solo was performed by the first chair clarinet, Brianna
Ambrosino from Hauppauge. This topped the piece off
flawlessly. Following that, was “Arabian Dances” by Brian
Balmages and “Fate of the Gods” by Steven Reineke. They were
intoxicatingly mysterious and seemed like it could come
straight out of Aladdin. It was filled with awesome
percussion sections that made you want to get up and belly
dance. The program ended on a happier note, yet still had
that patriotic feel. The closing number was entitled
“National Emblem,” and was a march written by E.E. Bagley.
It was a huge contrast to the previous songs, but still the
dynamics were great.
The entire festival was beyond successful and filled with
great memories. The students had a blast making new friends,
playing challenging music, and getting to know their
conductor. Mike Kimes was perfect for the students with his
huge smile, sense of humor, and dedication. It became
evident that the program had a strong military feel to it
and almost told an emotional story about Kimes' journey.
Everything seemed to add to the whole Mid Island Band
Festival experience for the students and, I’m sure, even
with the rigorous rehearsals and music, they wouldn’t have
traded it for the world.
Sarah Elsesser is a fun-loving, Senior at Sayville High
School. She enjoys trying new things, writing and being
around people. When she is not spending time with her
friends or babysitting she is cuddling up with a new book.
During the school year you can find her playing Bass
Clarinet in the Wind Ensemble or sitting in the bleachers
cheering on her high school's football team.
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