The day had finally arrived, competition day with the Heritage Music Festival.
Because of our early performance time for the VRHS Concert Band, we went down to breakfast a bit early to get a head start on the day. The breakfast spread was similar to the day before but bacon was replaced with sausage and French toast with pancakes. The students boarded the buses with the day's gear and we were off.
We arrived to the instrumental site in no time, the beauty of weekend non-traffic, and the band members quickly unloaded themselves and their instruments off the buses. Concert Band headed straight into the gym to start general warmup and we were escorted to our official warmup space.
We warmed up, tuned and it was showtime. The VRHS Concert Band played phenomenally and I'm not just saying that because I'm biased. The students played their hearts out and it was evident in all three pieces we performed. The clinician came on stage, congratulated us on a job well done and gave some helpful feedback to help us take it to another level. We thanked him for his help and exited the stage. This was the start to an amazing and unforgettable day.
Percussion Ensemble quickly got their instruments together for their portion which mostly included filling up tuned water glasses for a piece entitled Soup's On. Percussion took the stage and began with an auxiliary (mainly non-pitched instruments) percussion piece and went directly into a mallet heavy composition (you'll have to come our concert to listen!). Then they set up for Soup's On which required them to sit on ground, bang forks and knives of the ground and assorted kitchenware. The percussion ensemble was a hit and the clinician gave us some great comments and feedback.
Finally it was time for Jazz Band. These kids were amped up after their Concert Band performance and the Percussion Ensemble gave more fuel to their fire. The Jazz Band took the stage and absolutely "killed it" (for those that don't know, it means they performed really, really well). The timing, rhythms, solos and overall style lined up perfectly and it was the best performance the Jazz Band has ever performed. The clinician was helpful and gave us some different approaches to the music. We quickly cleared off the stage and as they kids were leaving, it was all smiles.
There was no time to rest and we flew over to the choral site which was about 20 minutes away. We unloaded the choir students and the Madmen began preparing as the first Valley vocal group of the day. The performances were running about 15 minutes behind schedule but in true Valley fashion, we rolled with the punches and adjusted to the change. The Madmen took the stage and gave the audience an entertaining performance of their pieces including an annual favorite, Cooney Island Baby.
Concert Choir was up next and they took the stage as the largest competing concert choir in the entire festival. They all sang beautifully and the soloists were captivating. All 80 choir members sang their hearts out and the audience responded with a standing ovation.
Women's Choir came up next and I'm sure you're getting tired of the same adjectives coming back over and over again, but it's hard to select words when the performances deserve the praise. Women's Choir put on an incredible performance and again, received a standing ovation. Performance times kept on getting pushed back because the adjudicators kept on wanting to work with our groups longer and longer.
Finally, about 30 minutes behind schedule, the VRHS Madrigal Consort took the stage as the final performing group of the festival. The Madrigals also "killed it" and gave an incredibly emotional and moving performance. The judges were in awe of the students' talents and gave some great feedback and different approaches to their songs. As soon as the clinic ended, it was back on the buses to head to the awards ceremony at Medieval Times.
Valley was seated in the yellow and red section and we were all excited for the dinner theatre and the awards ceremony. The show started off with a bang with horses, knights, speeches from the King and Princess and a delicious meal of half a chicken, baked potato and corn on the cob. The show was filled of Medieval games including horse showmanship, jousting and other Medieval games. Our yellow and red knight did not disappoint and performed very well in every challenge. It was time for the final joust and the excitement was overwhelming. We rooted for our knight and in the end, he was victorious! He came up into our section and selected Indigo to be his Queen of Love. She received a sash, a tiara and a photo with the Princess and our winning knight. The show ended, the general public exited and it was time to announce the placements and awards.
To be perfectly honest, this whole next part was a blur. So much excitement, screams of joy, applause for other groups, and general happiness filled our section. I cannot officially tell you what prizes we took but I can tell you that all Valley Regional ensembles took 1st in their division and received gold ratings across the board! There were a number of sweepstake awards received and other accolades but I cannot official tell you what they are until I figure out what they are! Whenever Valley's name was announced, a burst of screams, shouts and applause masked the tail part of the announcement so we couldn't hear what we received the award for. However, 2 Valley students received the prestigious Maestro award given to outstanding soloist that is selected by the adjudication panel. Colton K. and Richard P. received maestro awards for their solos in Jazz Band and Concert Choir, respectively.
So many happy faces, so many faces filled with complete joy. I honestly cannot tell you how incredible this moment was. Hugs/high fives were exchanged, pictures taken with the trophies...this evening was truly unforgettable.
More pictures taken, a visit to the gift shop, still more pictures...and shouts of joys...lots of shouting! It was finally time to head back to the hotel. We boarded, got back and checked the kids in for the night.
I will not update about our events from today, we are performing at Six Flags Great Adventure and the rest of the day is for the kids. Their hours and months of hard work has paid off and this is the least we can do to give back to them.
Now to the sappy part...I am obviously speaking from my perspective but I am sure Miss Hilton would agree with everything that I'm saying. Your children are beyond incredible. Not only are they superb performers, they are respectful, responsible, caring and overall incredible young adults. We are so lucky to have such great students from the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex. As we were leaving Medieval Times, so many kids came up and thanked us. We should not be thanked, it is them and you, the parents/family members/friends that deserve the thanks. Some of the most memorable quotes from the evening, "This is better than winning the football state championships!" "I am so happy right now!" "This is the best moment of my life."
This trip has been incredible, amazing, awesome...any other adjectives you can think of. It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to teach these wonderful young adults. They are all going to become wonderful human beings and I cannot wait to see what is in store for these kids. Until next time...!