Big day for band as 36 advance to State competition

Ana La Rosa Grillo and Krista Edwards

Edgar Meirhofer, Special Contributor

Despite the nerve-wracking experience of stepping up and performing for a judge, 36 band members advanced to the state UIL competition. 

This year there were some major changes to the band UIL competition. With a new director and new system, performers were nervous when the Regional Solo & Ensemble got underway last week at Humble High School. Some tried to keep it light in the moment and even joked around before facing the judges.

“The room we were staying in had a little bench and some lifting stuff so me and a couple of guys just started working out right before our [performance],” Ethan Ott, senior euphonium player, said.

Ott had been practicing for approximately two months before this event, and his hard work paid off when he received his results and learned he advanced.

“Students have lives, academia to keep up with, make sure they’re passing their courses, so they ended up having only 90 minutes of class time a week to practice,” assistant band director Bryan Hess said. “That was the most the band course could offer them in-class.”

This led to students scouting out times to practice with their groups despite conflicting schedules. 

“Getting all the guys organized was difficult, because we’d try during flex a lot but some of them would have tutoring or clubs and stuff,” Ott said. 

Jacob Valcarce, a french horn player, had never made it to state before this year. With his frantic arrival after picking his niece and nephew up for school, he was incredibly stressed. But, the moment he made it into the room he was meant to perform in, it was easy to forget the anxiety and instead play his instrument. 

“I rushed to the school,” Valcarce said. “My heart rate was at 150 and I thought I blew it, but when I got there everyone was telling me to calm down and that it was fine, so I eventually calmed down.” 

Hess gave out the results to each band member, and with pride he got to tell 36 of the 50 students who attended that they were advancing. State will be held Memorial Day weekend at the University of Texas in Austin.

“UIL is incredibly independent, so they have a lot of liberty with that, but also less guidance,” Hess said. “They have to rely on each other and despite that, we still had amazing results this year.”