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Rainy Raider Band festival moved inside gymnasium

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

The Land of the Running Water Band Adjudication Festival lived up to its name Saturday night.

The festival, held at Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium, saw its 13th annual edition become unlucky, weather-wise, due to a steady downpour of rain.

Thanks to the efforts of Tamaqua Area officials and custodial staff, the music was saved when the proceedings were moved inside for the first time in the festival's history.

The festival, which is organized with the help of the Tamaqua Area Band Boosters, has become a popular attraction on the fall schedule since its inception, as a showcase for bands both locally and from outside the area.

A total of 14 high school marching bands were scheduled to perform their halftime shows at this year's festival, coming to Tamaqua from as far away as Bangor and Exeter Township.

Despite weather forecasts for rain Saturday night, Tamaqua Raider Band Director John F. Potlunas said on Friday that a decision on holding the festival, which includes more than 1,000 student musicians, would be made by 3 p.m. on Saturday, due to the need to notify the bands that would have to be en route by that time.

At 3 p.m., however, there were overcast skies, but the rain had yet to start. By the scheduled start time of 6:30 p.m., the rain had begun, as predicted.

The first four bands, from Hamburg, North Schuylkill, Shenandoah Valley and Panther Valley, performed in the wet conditions before a decision was made to move the festivities into the Tamaqua Area Athletic Center, which is located behind the stadium.

Other participating bands included those from Mahanoy Area, Wilson Area, Emmaus, Minersville, Tri-Valley, Southern Lehigh, Exeter Township, Bangor, Pottsville and the host Raider Marching Band.

The festival is an adjudication, meaning the bands were to be judged by a panel of music educators in areas such as music, marching and effects, and are given an overall rating ranging from Poor to Outstanding.

Awards are presented for the outstanding sections, including drum majors, brass, percussion, woodwinds and band front. A trophy is also presented for the Best Marching and Manuevering, and the Michelle J. Potlunas Memorial Award is for audience appeal. As the host band, Tamaqua Area performs but is not part of the awards ceremony, although it also goes through the judging process.

The Panther Valley "Panther Pride" Marching Band, under the direction of Mark Christ, performed a show of music from the rock band Styx, including "The Grand Illusion", "Renegade", "Best of Times", "Too Much Time on My Hands" and "Come Sail Away".

The Raider Band's show includes Moussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein", Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun" and a finale from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the latter three arranged by Tom Wallace.

While being inside didn't allow for the bands to perform their full field shows, at least they had the opportunity to entertain with their rousing renditions of a wide variety of marching music. so that their trip to the Land of the Running Water wasn't a washout.

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