Tamaqua hosts 14th band festival
Fire twirlers for the Panther Valley High School "Panther Pride" Marching Band perform during the Land of the Running Water Band Adjudication Festival at Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Stadium Hill in Tamaqua was alive with the sounds of marching band music Saturday night.
Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium played host to the 14th Annual Land of the Running Water Band Adjudication Festival, with 15 high school bands getting the chance to strut their stuff and present their musical and marching talents with their field shows.
On a crisp and clear autumn evening, the student musicians were judged on their music, marching and general effects, and were also given an overall rating.
There were also five section awards presented, as well as awards for best marching and manuevering and audience appeal.
The Exeter Township Senior High Marching Band, under the direction of Michquelena Potlunas, had an award-winning performance with their Evolution of Dance Show, featuring the sounds of Motown, disco and "Macarena", as well as an all-Journey closer that included "Open Arms" and "Don't Stop Believin'."
Michquelena is the daughter of Tamaqua Area High School Band Director John F. Potlunas.
Exeter received "superior" ratings across the board and won the awards for Best Drum Majors, as well as for top percussion and woodwind sections and band front. Exeter also tied for the top brass section award.
The Tri-Valley High School "Bulldog" Marching Band also earned "superior" ratings with its tribute to Journey show. Tri-Valley was the winner of the Michelle J. Potlunas Memorial Audience Appeal Award and tied with Exeter for best brass section.
The Southern Lehigh High School "Spartan" Marching Band took the prize for best marching and manuevering with a show that included "House of the Rising Sun," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "25 or 6 to 4," and "Never My Love." Southern Lehigh also earned "superior" ratings in all categories.
Also receiving "superior" ratings were the bands from Pottsville Area and Bangor High Schools. The Crimson Tide band performed a show highlighted by "My Favorite Things" and "The Greatest Love of All". The Bangor Slator Band, with their Royal Welsh Guard uniforms, featured the music of "West Side Story" in its presentation.
Seven bands received overall ratings of "excellent": Hamburg, Shenandoah Valley, Mahanoy Area, Minersville, Annville-Cleona, Williams Valley and Wilson Area.
Hamburg's show featured the Music From Motown, while Shenandoah Valley went across the Atlantic to draw from the music of The Who's rock opera "Tommy" for its "Video Mania" presentation.
Mahanoy Area's show was "A Tribute to Charlie Brown," featuring songs from the Broadway musical as well as tunes from the Peanuts television specials. Minersville's show rocked with songs from KISS, the Beach Boys, The Beatles and Journey.
Annville-Cleona went to Broadway for its "The Phantom of the Opera" presentation. Williams Valley featured the jazzy sounds of Chuck Mangione. Wilson Area had a patriotic-themed program titled "American Fanfares."
The Nativity BVM High School "Green Wave" Marching Band received a "good" rating for its field show with a "windmills" theme.
The Panther Valley "Panther Pride" Marching Band, under the direction of Mark Christ, earned an "excellent" rating for its marching and "good" ratings for music, effects and overall presentation. The Panther Band had a rock-oriented show that included its takes on Led Zeppelin ("Immigrant Song"), Edgar Winter ("Frankenstein"), Michael Jackson ("Thriller") and Styx ("Come Sail Away").
The host Tamaqua Area "Raider" Marching Band was the last to perform. The Raider Band, clad in its dress dark blue tops and white pants, was not part of the awards competition but did receive "superior" ratings across the board.
Tamaqua Area's show included a Jay Bocook arrangement of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite", Otis Redding's "Respect" (made famous by Aretha Franklin), the Joan Jett hit "I Love Rock and Roll", and "Softly As I Leave You," also arranged by Bocook.
The bands were judged by a panel of music educators that included Gordon Fung, Dennis Rhoads and David Schmaldienst. Fung is a retired East Stroudsburg University band director, while Rhoads directed bands at Great Valley High School and Schmaldienst formerly directed marching units at Tamaqua Area and Tri-Valley.