Band students score at state

Fifteen Sequim High School band members traveled to Ellensburg during the last weekend in April to compete in the State Solo and Ensemble contest — and took many other schools by surprise.

“Sequim had one of the largest contingents for a school our size,” said SHS band director Vern Fosket. “They are very competitive against all the bigger schools and they all performed very well.”

Senior Jon Bash even snared a big win — he was awarded second place in the state for the multiple percussion division, an event that conjures up images of circus juggling acts.

“Jon had seven types of instruments he was playing at the same time,” said fellow competitor Robbie Blenk. “We had to get as many people as we could to help him set up his instruments.”

According to Bash’s classmates, the instruments included the snare, bass and tenor drums, a gong, a cowbell, a tambourine and a triangle.

“It was really cool to watch,” added Amy Oppfelt.

Oppfelt, who competed in the trumpet duet division along with Rachel Haglund, calls the experience in Ellensburg “great.”

“We stayed in a hotel there and a lot of the people just came for the day, so we had fun,” Oppfelt said, adding that except for some of the percussionists, it was everyone’s first trip to the state contest. “We saw some cool things, music-wise.”

Blenk said that while he had a rushed trip — he spent four hours driving to the contest, practiced for 20 minutes, performed for 10 and then hopped back on the bus and traveled back — his experience was memorable, as well.

“It was intimidating though,” he said. “There were people that looked like they’d dedicated their whole lives to playing their instrument.”

Still, the Sequim group held its own against the others, Fosket said.

“A lot of them finished up with superior marks,” he said. “They played very impressively.”

For the percussionists, who competed a day or two earlier than the rest of the group, their second time around was a calmer experience.

“We did a lot better this time,” said drummer Jason Kowitz.

“We were a lot more relaxed,” added Reed Gunstone, who competed in a multiple percussion quartet with Kowitz and fellow classmates Nick Bowden and Reed Omdal.

As for their music, the students said they were able to choose the songs they wanted play for the competition.

“At the district level contest (held in Port Angeles in February), I picked a song that was kind of easy so for state I picked a song that was a little too hard,” said trombonist Matt Grey, who received solid marks nonetheless.

Regardless of their results, none of the students hesitated when asked if they wanted to return to the contest again.

“We’re all hoping to go back,” said Oppfelt. “It was such a great experience.”

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