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Bands shine at district tournaments

Hart makes it eight straight, West Ranch places 2nd in top division

Posted: January 5, 2010 9:32 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hart High School Gold Star Brigade performs to the winter theme of "Slalom" from "Alpine" by Michael Pote at the Bands of America competition held at College of the Canyons in October 2009. The Indians captured their eighth consecutive championship in Downey in December.

It wasn't Santa Clarita Valley high school football teams, but marching bands, that were making noise this year in their Southern Section championships.

The Williams S. Hart Union High School District qualified all six of its high schools for the first time to compete in various Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association's competitions, with West Ranch and Canyon medaling and Hart taking home the top prize in their respective divisions.

"We don't have state championships like football and basketball, so this competition is like our C.I.F. Finals," Hart High Marching Regiment director Anthony Bailey said.

On Dec. 5 in Downey, the Regiment captured its eighth straight championship, sixth in a row at the 4A level, with both the color guard and the marching band posting the highest scores of any band in all size classes.

"Winning this year was unreal," Hart senior Cameron West said. "This was the year, because we had been winning the district for so long, where I actually did not know if we were going to win or not."

The win was a fitting end to a summer and semester-long practice schedule that included "plenty of Saturdays" and a trip to band camp.

"Mr. Bailey puts a lot of emphasis on winning the district and continuing our run," West said. "It's very rewarding to know that I am in a band of this caliber. I see other bands and see that they don't get to experience the things we do."

The Indians have made the finals all eight years since the championships' inception. Bailey recognizes his students' hard work in making sure the Regiment continues its run of distinctions and awards year after year.

"There is a strong tradition amongst our band students," Bailey said. "In the back of their mind they don't want to be ‘the group' that doesn't get that next championship. They know Hart band is known for its excellence so they work real hard to achieve and maintain that excellence."

Other schools in the Santa Clarita Valley fared well. Saugus took home the bronze medal in Division 2A, and the West Ranch Marching Band walked off with a silver medal in the 5A Division, which they recently joined after winning two consecutive titles at the 3A level. The Wildcats lost the competition by less than a point to Savanna High of Anaheim, Calif.

"Initially the students were a little disappointed because they had won the last two years," West Ranch band director Jason Marshall said. "After the shock of losing subsided they knew that they had competed in the most difficult division and came really close. They won other events and were proud of what they accomplished throughout the season."

Next up for local marching bands are neighboring festivals in the spring and individual auditions for district and state all-star bands, with tryouts and callbacks taking place over the course of the next few weeks.

While West Ranch, a program only four years in the making, will stick to its regular local touring circuit, Hart, which in years past has traveled to Carnegie Hall and Washington D.C., has been forced to cut back on its substantial traveling schedule, part in due to the economy.

"We have been conscious and aware of families' traveling and spending on the road, so we are doing more things locally or within daily traveling distance," Bailey said.

The Indians will also welcome a new band room into construction, hoping for a fall completion in time to prepare for another winning season.


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