LHS Wind Ensemble Heads to State Competition
(La Grande) – Playing a musical instrument may come naturally for some students, but trying to practice music meant to be played by an entire band is not as natural. Students in the La Grande High School Wind Ensemble have been happy to be back together post-pandemic this school year, and have been working hard to improve their sound.
Their hard work has paid off, as they are headed to the state band competition in May at OSU. It has been three years since OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) has held a state band competition, but this will mark another return-to-normal event after the pandemic. The state competition is May 12 on the Oregon State University Campus. And the La Grande High School Wind Ensemble will be there.
In mid March, the ensemble participated in the district band festival, hosted by LHS, which included multiple ensembles from the Greater Oregon League (GOL).
The three judges at the festival liked what they heard, and the LHS Wind Ensemble won the competition, automatically qualifying them for state. LHS Band Director Alex Justice said the band members were frankly surprised they scored so well at the festival, but they are pretty hard on themselves. There has been no Oregon State Band Competition for three years, since 2019, so the seniors currently in the group were freshmen and in Symphonic Band then.
There are about 26 students in the Wind Ensemble and they are mostly juniors and seniors, with a few sophomores. The group plays mostly concert band music, like “The Liberty Bell,” an American military march by John Philip Sousa.
Justice, who is a new teacher this year, said it has been challenging to determine the skill levels of the musicians and adjust accordingly. He is pleased to take the ensemble to state. “It’s a good boost for the band and a good opportunity to do some normal activity again and to see their work pay off.”