Wind Ensemble blows judges away


The FVHS Wind Ensemble being directed by Dr. John Locke in late March 2022. (Photo by @fvbengalbands on Twitter)

Margaux Burkhart, Staff Writer

In the FVHS arts hallway during second period of each day, the beautiful music of advanced musicians’ instruments can be heard. The delicate sound of the flute, bold sound of the saxophone, and boisterous banter of the tubas combine into real, genuine music. These brilliant rhythms belong to none other than the FVHS Wind Ensemble. 

Wind Ensemble is the top band at Fuquay-Varina High School. It is an audition-based, rigorous class focused around hard work and discipline. Being in the Wind Ensemble requires a high musical ability level, solid technique, a good range of notes, and the physical skill to play challenging music. The hard work that ensemble members put in does not go unrewarded, as the group tends to be the face band of FVHS.

The next event where Wind Ensemble will be able to represent the Bengal family is a performance clinic with bands from around the state. Fuquay will be playing alongside Middle Creek High School, Grimsley High School, Eastern Randolph High School, Asheville High School, and Reagan High School to receive feedback from highly qualified musical experts. Dr. Mark Norman from the NC School of Arts, Dr. Margaret Underwood from Western Carolina University, Phillip Riggs from the NC School of Science and Math, and Dr. John Locke from UNC Greensboro will be the musicians critiquing the bands. Wind Ensemble can look forward to helpful and thorough criticism from an outside perspective, as well as the experience of performing at a national level facility. 

Getting back out to participate in the traveling and performing as part of the band again means a great deal to the Wind Ensemble and the band in general. When COVID-19 hit, musicians were not allowed to do much of anything. This caused many students to lose some of their musical skills, their personal connections to it, or even quit the band altogether. “It’s not because people didn’t want to or weren’t trying, but it was just the situation,” said Matthew Edwards, band director at FVHS. “We had some students that walked away from being in band because they were just like ‘this is not very fun to me, it’s not rewarding, it’s not enriching,’ and I can’t blame them. It was certainly frustrating.” 

Now that the band is back, they have made sure to let people know it. Just this year, the Wind Ensemble has performed two concerts and played at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the school. However, Edwards states, that the most rewarding part is just being able to be together again. 

“We’re just excited to be able to play together and make music again together because that’s truly been the biggest thing,” Edwards stated. 

The upcoming performance clinic will be preparing the ensemble for MPA, or Music Performance Assessment. At MPA, bands are judged based on their musical ability and given a rating. Wind Ensemble will be judged at a level six, which is the highest high-school level for a band. They will take all of the criticism given to them by the music professionals and apply it in hopes for a high rating. Wind Ensemble will be performing Basque Rhapsody by Melvin Shelton, First Suite in E-flat by Gustav Holst, and Foiled Again! ” by Jack Wilds, all of which are level six pieces.

FVHS Wind Ensemble member Shave Hovey is one of the many looking forward to the performance clinic. “It’s pretty exciting being able to go and get feedback on what we’ve worked on for the last few months,” Hovey stated. “It’s always nice to have the opportunity to expand upon our music, and make it better.”

Update: The performance clinic was an absolute success. The band “gave a really good performance, and they felt that they got a lot out of the clinicians,” Edwards said. “They said they heard some new angles on some things they were already aware of, but also were reminded of some things they already knew, which is good too.” 

As for their MPA the band was also highly successful, earning a superior rating from all of the judges. “I’m very proud of both their hard work and the quality of their performance,” Edwards stated. “This has been a challenging year to get back to our usual high standard of performance after online band. The students have worked hard to rebuild both their individual skills and their ability to perform at a high level with their ensembles.”