ALEXANDRIA, VA - Last week, the Spotswood High School Band traveled down to Northern Virginia Community College to compete in the Festivals of Music. The Festivals of Music is a performance competition where students from high school music programs throughout North America showcase their talents.

The goal of the festival is to provide middle and high school musicians with constructive feedback. Students are evaluated by college professors, professional musicians as well as clinicians. Each performance group is ranked according to the difficulty of the musical performance piece. They are then given a numeric score. All comments by the adjudicators are recorded digitally and given to the directors, allowing both directors and students to reflect on their performance.

The Spotswood High School Band under the direction of SHS Band Director, Sarah Carino-Koza, had three groups performing in last week's competition. They included the Concert Band, the Honors Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Band. Students must audition to participate in the Honors Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Band.

Sign Up for E-News

Carino-Koza and her students spend the majority of the school year preparing for their performances in the festival. The Spotswood Band Parents Association also sponsors various fundraisers during the school year to help finance the trip.

The Concert Band received a rating of "Excellent" and placed second in the Concert Band Class A. The Honors Wind Ensemble also received a rating of "Excellent," placing first in the Concert Band Class AA while the Jazz Band placed first in the Jazz Ensemble Class A. The Jazz Band received a rating of "Excellent" as well on their performance that included Charles Mingus' "Fables for Faubus" and Miles Davis' "Solar."

Another milestone for the SHS Band included winning the Esprit di Corps award. This award is bestowed upon the band that displays "an exemplary attitude of positive support and outstanding personal behavior. Unlike other trophies that focus on musical achievement based on the scores of the adjudication panel, this prize spotlights the performance of the students throughout the festival weekend as they demonstrate their highest level of responsible behavior."

Integrity, character as well as a quest for excellence and a superior understanding of the spirit of cooperation are the criteria by which the winners of the award are judged. This is only the second time that the Spotswood High School Band has been awarded the Esprit di Corps award at the Festivals of Music.

In addtion to competing in the festival last Friday, students also enjoyed some time in the nation's capital. The entire trip was chaperoned by Carino-Koza along with Spotswood High School Vice-Principal Michael Mastroserio, Donna and Doug Faulkenberry, JoAnn and Stu Thompson, Dulce Branco-Rivera and Maribel Whitfield.

Students spent much of last Thursday afternoon exploring the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. as well as taking an early evening tour of the monuments after their arrival. On Friday evening after the festival, they were treated to a performance of "Sheer Madness" at the Kennedy Center. The play is the second longest running in American Theater with more than 12,000 performances. It's a lively whodunit that allows the audience to have a hand in the solution. The group also stopped off at Baltimore's Inner Harbor on their way back to New Jersey to cap off an exciting three days.

Both the Honors Wind Ensemble and the Concert Band will be performing their award-winning numbers at the annual Spotswood High School Spring Concert. The concert will be held in the high school's cafetorium on Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

The concert is free and open to the public. Spotswood High School is located at 105 Summerhill Road.