This has been a very different year for the Natchitoches Central High School Band. They had to cancel band camp this past summer due to the second spike of COVID-19 cases in the state, play outdoors, utilize bell covers and social distancing, abstain from travel, and mostly participate in virtual events rather than the in-person ones they’re accustomed to. However, through all of the challenges they have persevered and achieved success in several areas.
Throughout the year, the band has utilized social media to be able to keep performing when it was unsafe to host live events. The band presented what they typically perform for the Natchitoches Christmas Parade, they honored Black History Month with a performance of “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, a tribute to the NCHS Boys Basketball team, a performance featuring the NCHS Percussion Ensemble performing on nontraditional instruments, and featured the Tribal Fire Colorguard. While the NCHS Band was able to perform in the stands at football games, they were unable to perform a halftime show due to COVID regulations. These virtual performances were instrumental in ensuring that their talents reached a wider audience and that they could share the joy of music with others.
Students participated in fundraisers this year, including a donation drive and a jambalaya plate lunch fundraiser. These funds are appreciated as they will help with instrument repair, new instrument purchases, future travel, and materials for the classroom. The NCHS Band intends to keep offering ways for the community can contribute, and they are grateful for all of the support that the community has provided so far!
The NCHS Band had eight students selected to the District II Honor Band: Alexx Gibson, flute; Adriana Hernandez, flute, Mariana Martinez, flute, Jeron Larry, alto saxophone, Tyson Roberson, trombone, Wesley Clark, tuba, Colton Conley, percussion, and Caldwell DeFord, percussion. These students were selected via virtual audition amongst other high school musicians from surrounding parishes.
In addition to being selected to the District Honor Band, Wesley Clark, tuba, was selected to the LMEA All-State Band. All-state is a two-round process, and students who were selected to move on to the second round include Jeron Larry, alto saxophone, Colton Conley, percussion, and Caldwell DeFord, percussion. This is an even more selective process as it includes students from all over the state. Wesley is the first NCHS band students to be selected for this honor since 2004. He has been invited to the Northwestern State University Honor Wind Ensemble program this summer as a result of this honor.
Several NCHS Band students participated in the LMEA District II Solo and Ensemble
Assessment. This assessment involves small ensembles and solos who perform for
adjudication and receive a rating that indicates their level of achievement. One ensemble and two soloists participated in this event and they all received a rating of Superior, which is the highest achievable rating. The ensemble includes Adriana Hernandez, flute, Jeron Larry, alto saxophone, and Aidan St. Peter, bass clarinet. The soloists are Wesley Clark, tuba, and Mariana Martinez, flute.
The NCHS Band also participated as a full ensemble in the virtual LMEA Large Ensemble Assessment. This assessment was a combination of parishes from north and central Louisiana and involved three adjudicators listening to recorded submissions and assign a rating. The NCHS Band received a Superior rating from all three adjudicators, the highest achievable rating.
This was especially exciting since schools shut down the week before the NCHS Band was set to perform for 2020’s Large Ensemble Assessment.
Finally, the NCHS Band was able to hold a live concert on May 13th for the first time since December 2019. The concert featured a performance by the NCHS Percussion Ensemble, the previously mentioned Superior-rated woodwind ensemble, and the entire ensemble. Awards were also distributed and seniors were recognized for the participation and contributions throughout their high school careers.
This has been a very successful year for the Natchitoches Central High School Band despite the challenges and obstacles they have faced. They are looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year and hope to be able to continue spreading the joy of music to the community.