Tag Archives: VHS Band

Morrow Gets Vernonia Bands Ready to Perform

Andy Morrow has a very busy conclusion to his first school year in Vernonia.

Morrow, who took over this year as the Vernonia band instructor, was preparing the Vernonia High School Band for their next Band Festival on April 16 in Clatskanie.  This performance provides the VHS Band with their final opportunity to qualify for the state band competition.  The Vernonia Middle School Band is also practicing for their District Festival on April 22 in Forest Grove.

“Most everything happens at the end of the year, which is both good and bad,” says Morrow.  “As everything else at school, like testing, is coming to an end, we’re just ramping up.”

Morrow also has the upcoming VHS Band Spring Concert, which will be held on Monday, May 5.  This concert will be very special as it features the return of former Vernonia band instructor Rob Izzett  who will be co-directing a joint performance between the VHS Band and his Mazama High School Band from Klamath Falls.

The VHS band will also perform at the graduation ceremony on May 31.

Band2-webMeanwhile, the Vernonia Middle School Band is also preparing for their Spring concert on May 13.

In addition to all the upcoming band performances, Morrow says he has two individual students, senior Sarah Wagner on the tuba and freshman  Kaitlyn Eyrrick on the clarinet, who will play in the “Music in May” concert, a three day event which Morrow describes as an honor band were the students will play in a band, be critiqued on their performing and also receive some private lessons.

In addition, Morrow says senior Jacob Medearis just won the District trombone solo and  will compete at the state solo contest on May 3 at Lewis and Clark college.  “Jacob is doing some really good work,” says Morrow.

First year instructor Morrow has a Bachelors Degree in Music and a Masters in Education from Portland State University. He has had previous teaching experience working with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra.  He plays the trombone as his main instrument.

Morrow is hoping the VHS Band can score high enough at their Band Festival to qualify for the state competition on May 16 at Oregon State University.  The VHS Band has qualified for state the last three years in row under Izzett’s direction, winning first place in 2012 and finishing third last year.

For the High School Band Festival, Morrow has his thirty-three band students working on three pieces of music they will perform.  The first is “English Folk Song Suite” by Ralph Vaughn Williams; the band will just play the first movement of this piece.  Next is “On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss” by David Holsinger, a slow ballad which Morrow says is difficult to play in competition because it is easy for the judges to hear mistakes in the performance.  “You can hear every single instrument so if there is a wrong note or a wrong rhythm it stands out,” says Morrow.  “It’s really about the phrasing and how the music is moving-if anything is wrong it’s really easy to pick out, so it’s a tough piece.”   The final piece is “The Light Eternal” by James Swearingen.  Morrow says this piece has an interesting background story: The music is about a warship in World War II that was sinking and is a tribute to the three chaplins who stayed on board who went down with the ship after giving solace to the many other ill fated sailors. According to Morrow, Swearingen added parts of old hymns into his musical piece.

As you can see it is a very busy spring schedule for Morrow and all of his Vernonia band students.

VHS Band Prepares to Defend State Title

VHSBandTrombone-webThe Vernonia High School Band is preparing to compete in the 2A/1A State Band Contest.  Last year Vernonia won the competition and returned from Corvalis as state champions.  This year the Loggers are hoping to defend that title.  A total of seven schools qualified  for the competition this year; trophies will be awarded to the top four finishers.

Led and conducted by instructor Rob Izzett, the VHS Band, along with a group of parent chaperones, will head to the State Contest on Thursday May 9th after school.  The Band will perform in the contest on Friday morning May 10th.

For those community members interested in attending the competition, the VHS Band is scheduled to begin their warm-up on Friday at 10:45 AM and perform at 11:15 AM.  They perform the Sight Read portion of the competition at 11:45.  Awards are scheduled for approximately 1:00 PM.  Tickets to attend the competition are $8 for adults, $5 for students and can be purchased ahead online or at the door; credit card purchases are not available at the door.  For more information go to http://www.osaa.org/band/

The group will stay overnight at the Holiday Inn Express so they will be rested and ready to perform in the morning.  “We’re trying to make sure that the students and chaperones don’t have to pay anything for their hotel rooms,” says Izzett.  Izzett says the cost is about $27 per student for lodging.  Anyone who would like to help the Band with their expenses for this return trip to the State Contest should contact Mr. Izzett at the Vernonia High School. VHSBansClarinet-web

Izzett has his work cut out for him and has been busy this spring preparing his students for the upcoming competition.   Izzett says he expects the competition to be tough again this year.  “It’s great that we were able to qualify again this year,” says Izzett.  “I’m happy that we were able to go again, to belong in this select group, and have the consistency each year. It’s also fun to bring home hardware!  The kids like that.”

Izzett  has chosen a variety of challenging pieces that will show off the talents of his group.  The group will play four numbers as part of their performance.  Izzett say the most difficult piece is called “Kleine Ungarise Rapsodie” (“A Little Hungarian Music”), an eastern European folk music piece that is very dance-like.  They will perform a slow piece, “Annabel Lee” which is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem by the same name. The third piece is called “Moscow 1941” which depicts the siege of Moscow during World War 2.  The final piece is called “Korean Folk Rhapsody”  which Izzett say is a tune most people will find familiar.

At the competition each Band is required to perform fifteen minutes of actual music and are timed and have a total of twenty-five minutes to get on stage, perform, and get off stage.  Izzett says the band enters the warm-up room prior to their performance, where they have a half hour to prepare.  “We can do whatever we want, but we will spend  lot of time tuning our instruments,” says Izzett. “We like to do that right before we go on.”

After their performance the Band is led to the Sight Read room.     There the students and Izzett are given a piece of music they have never seen before.  They are given six minutes to look over the music, identify challenging sections and tough rhythms, key changes and tricky tempo changes  all without playing a note on their instruments.  Izzett is limited in how much instruction he can give the group in that six minutes and counts on his best players to lead small groups through an initial reading of the sheet music.  “Once that time is up we start and then I can do whatever I can think of to get them to play the music-I can sing, I can dance, I can shout out where we are,” explains Izzett.  “It is not a pretty performance, but it is an important part of the competition.  The goal is to play it through, as well as possible, without having to stop. ”

The Band is then scored on their performance of their set of music and their Sight Read performance.  Izzett says last year VHS scored  four points higher than the next school in the performance portion but were beaten by six points in the Sight Read portion.  Izzett says he has been working almost every day on sight reading with his students this year.

This year Izzett has a smaller group, as well as a younger group of students.  Last year the VHS Band graduated eleven  seniors, this year Izzett only has two seniors and has included two middle school students for a total of twenty-five students. Izzett says at least six of his seniors from last year plan on attending the competition this year to cheer on the VHS Band.VHSBand-web

It is a busy spring for Izzett and his bands this year.  In addition to preparing for the State Contest, Izzett is also preparing for the annual Vernonia-Molalla High School Friendship Concert on Monday May 20th at 6:30.  This performance will act as the VHS Spring Band Concert this year.   Each band will perform their contest set of music and then play four pieces together. As part of that performance the bands will perform a piece of music that they have never seen before and take the audience through the same scenario as the Band experiences during the Sight Read portion of the State Contest.  “Matt Farris, the Molalla Conductor will bring a piece of music that I have never seen, and his students have never seen and he will narrate while I take the kids through as if it were an actual Sight Read session at State,”  explains Izzett.  “It will  take the audience through the process they never get to see at State.”

In other Band activity, two weeks ago the Middle School Band attended an all day festival in Battleground, WA. Also, VHS student Nate Izzett will be performing in the State Solo Competition on snare drum and marimba on May 4th at Lewis and Clark College.

Vernonia’s Voice would like to wish Rob Izzett and the VHS Band good luck at their upcoming State Contest.  Let’s Go Loggers!


To assist the VHS Band with expenses for their trip to the State Contest in Corvalis contact Rob Izzett at 503-708-0661 or Kathy Fetch in the High School office at 503-429-1333.