WBHS Marching Terriers host band festival

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Debbie Adams

The “Pride of Altavista” marching band from Altavista Combined High School were named Grand Champions for Classes A and AA at the Blue Ridge Festival of Bands held at William Byrd High School on October 26. Their program was entitled “Mutiny.”

The William Byrd High School Marching Terriers hosted their 23rd annual band festival at WBHS on October 26— with a new name this year, the Blue Ridge Festival of Bands. The event is organized as a fundraiser by the WBHS Band Boosters, band staff, and students and showcases the talents of marching bands from across the region.

“The concept of our competition is to offer excellent adjudication and a rewarding experience for students,” said WBHS Band Director Dan Plybon.

This year’s festival featured 10 high school marching bands in competition and an exhibition performance by the William Byrd band.

Bands are judged on their musical performance, their marching form and precision, general
effect (showmanship, guard work, difficulty level, communication with the audience, visuals,
and transitions) and given a rating of superior, excellent, or good in the adjudication.

In previous years, the Byrd competition was known as the “Preview of Champions” and was the first band competition in the region each fall. This year the band elected to move the competition to later in the marching band season; in fact, it was the final competition of the season for some of the bands.

Competing bands this year represented Rustburg, James River, Randolph Henry, Chatham, Altavista Combined, George Wythe, Glenvar, Patrick County, Lord Botetourt, and Radford High Schools.

The program opened with the national anthem by the Marching Terriers, led by Director Dan Plybon.

Group A bands were up first. Rustburg performed their program “How to Free Your Dragon,” with selections from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon.” Joseph Ayers is the director of the “Marching Red Devils.” Rustburg won first place in their class in Percussion, second place in General Effect, second place in Music, and second place in Overall Performance in Class A.

James River High School won first place for Drum Major in the A Group, first place in Color Guard, second place in percussion, first place in General Effect, first place in Marching, and first place in Music, as well as first place Overall for Group A. The Marching Knights program was entitled “Time after Time.” The band is led by Kevin English.

Randolph Henry High School, led by Kevin Reamey, performed “Ludwig and Wolfgang,” “Knuckle Concerto,” “Claire de Lune,” and “Chopsticks.” The Marching Statesmen won second place for Drum Major, second place for Color Guard, second place for Marching, and third place Overall in Group A.

The Group AA “Marching Cavaliers” from Chatham, led by Earl Brooks, presented “Colors.” They won second place for Drum Major, first place in Color Guard, and second places in Percussion, General Effect, Marching, Music, and in Overall Performance.

The “Pride of Altavista” band from Altavista Combined High School is led by Mario Ruiz. They performed “Mutiny” with music from “Blood on the Captain’s Sword.” They won first place in Group AA for Drum Major, Percussion, General Effect, Marching, and Music, and second place in Color Guard, as well as first place in Overall Performance. They were named Grand Champions for Classes A/AA.

The Glenvar “Marching Highlanders,” led by Zach Sweeney, won first place in all categories—Drum Major, Color Guard, Percussion, General Effect, Marching, Music, and Overall Performance in group AAA. Their program is entitled “From the Grave.”

The George Wythe “Marching Maroons,” led by Dan Wilner, won second place in Class AAA in Drum Major, Color Guard, Percussion, General Effect, Marching, Music, and Overall Performance with their program “Totally Rad.”

The “Pride of Patrick County” took first place in the categories of Drum Major and Color Guard in Class AAAA; second place in Percussion, General Effect, Marching and Overall Performance. The band from Patrick County is led by Joseph Whitt. Their program was “Snow Days.”

Also in Group AAAA, the “Radford Regiment,” from Radford High School, led by Daniel Frankenberger, performed “Spellbound.” They placed first in Percussion, second in Drum Major, and Music, and third place Overall in their class.

The Lord Botetourt “Marching Cavaliers,” led by Chris Caldwell, performed “War Dance” and placed first in General Effect, Marching, and Music and Overall Performance. They placed second in Color Guard and were named Grand Champions for Classes AAA/AAAA.

James River High School was named “Favorite Band of the Day” as the result of votes cast (in cash) by guests at the competition.

The evening performances concluded with an exhibition of their program, “Dia de los Muertos: Day of Remembrance” by the William Byrd High School Marching Terriers, featuring solos by Ethan Bowser, Brian McCormack, Grecia Hernandez, Sydney Dietrich, Bryant Humphries, Claire Wray, David Smith, Jon Davis, Aimee Harrison, and Piper Brown. Color Guard soloist was Faith Smith.

In addition to Director Plybon, Denise Aspell serves as assistant director of the Marching Terriers, Whitney Puckett as color guard instructor, and Dewayne Peters as percussion instructor.

Ethan Bowser is the Corps Commander with Ethan Wood as Drum Major, Color Guard Captain RoAnna Hylton, Horn Line Captains Brian McCormack and Bryant Humphries, and Percussion Captain James Buchanan. The student leaders distributed the awards to the competing bands during the awards ceremony.

English teacher Marc Hinkle was the announcer for the program and kept the audience and performers laughing during the entire festival, primarily with his expressive reading of hilarious Air Grams dedicated to different band members from all 11 bands, sent by their friends and families.

Partner sponsors for the Blue Ridge Festival of Bands included the Cheryl Ham Team at Long and Foster Real Estate, and Tech Squared. Items were donated for the event by Berglund Outdoors, Wood’s Service Center, Star City Powersports, and First Impressions Printing and Graphics. The Band Boosters also thanked Troy Ham and Marc Hinkle for their support.

Band Booster officers who facilitated the festival include President Suzanne Bowser, Vice President Troy Ham, Secretary Chrissy Dinnerville, Treasurer Debra Dietrich, and Fundraising Chair Erica Jones.

Judges for the competition included: Dr. Wayne Gallops (Music), Jason Minnix (Marching), Rob Shipp (General Effect), Ben Cantrell (Percussion), Todd Russell (Color Guard), and Brian Quakenbush (Drum Major).

The next fundraiser by the Marching Terriers is their annual Peejay’s Fruit Sale arriving just in time for the holidays. You may order online, with your order shipped directly to your home or have it delivered to William Byrd High School in December.

Email Suzanne Bowser at suzanne@bowser.com or call her at 904-9754 for more information.