Kingston High School instrumental musicians have been stacking up the honors from state competition.
The band became one of only six 3A bands in Oklahoma to earn a Superior rating at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association State Concert Band Contest at East Central University.
Director of Bands Orien Landis said the judging was particularly strict this year, and he told his band it would take their best performance to earn a Superior rating.
"I just told them, 'We can play so well that there's no question we made a I, or we can put it in the judges' hands,'" Landis said. "They had been handing out II's and III's left and right — it was a bloodbath. But I thought we played really well and earned a I."
Landis said the band had made considerable strides since earning a I at district contest to qualify for state.
The band scored a II (Excellent) rating in sight reading. Landis said he thought his musicians read the material well, and he wouldn't have been surprised if the band had earned a I. He was nonetheless pleased with the performance.
The band is under the direction of Landis and Assistant Director John Ivie. Senior members are Zach Bailey, Macey Bayles, Destiny Hughes,Aaron King, Preston Lunsford, Calli Rogers, Colten Weaver, Taylor Williams, and Raylee Woodward.
At the State Solo and Ensemble Contest at Oklahoma State University, the percussion ensemble earned Superior. Members are Nathan Cook, Brandon Edison, Destiny Hughes, John Jackson, Joseph Jackson, Preston Lunsford, Calli Rogers and Nathan Brown.
Landis said the ensemble turned in an outstanding performance of the difficult piece.
"I thought they played really well, and you could tell the judge did too," Landis said. "At one point, he was over there smiling and nodding his head."
Another percussion ensemble with Nathan Brown, Brendon Edison, Aaron King, Taylor Justus, Jonas McGahey and Austin Williams received an Excellent.
Landis said the musicians discovered they had arrived in Stillwater without their sheet music and were forced to perform the selection from memory, despite the fact that they had never done so in the past.
"So considering that, I thought they did well," Landis said. "There were a couple of parts where they weren't quite locked in, but for the most part, it was pretty good."
The trombone choir also earned a II rating. Members are Thomas Sedrick, Ben Whipkey, Chance Williams and Jordan Wise.
"I was pretty happy with the way they played," Landis said. "There were a few intonation problems, and I think part of that was due to the difference between the temperature in the room where we warmed up and the room we played in."
Landis pointed out that many of the instrumentalists who qualified for state are underclassmen and several are middle school students, which bodes well for future solo and ensemble contests.
"The experience will definitely help," Landis said. "The judging is a little tougher at state, and you kind of get used to that and play with more confidence."
The band will perform its annual spring concert at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Kingston Multipurpose Activity center cafetorium. Landis said after a semester of preparing serious music for contest, the band will cut loose with some fun arrangements at the concert.