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Morris concert band crowned champions at ISU competition

MORRIS – The Morris Community High School concert band was crowned the Class 1A champions at the Illinois State University Concert Band Contest last week.

“The state of Illinois concert band contest is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious concert band events in Illinois,” Morris band director Don Stinson said. “It’s a beautiful stage to perform on.”

Senior Sam Obrochta, who plays flute in the concert band, said it was an awesome feeling to have success on this level.

“First place is huge, especially in the same year our marching band took second place,” she said. “It’s a pretty major achievement for us.”

The students performed three pieces – “Country Gardens,” Sousa Edition; “Dusk” by Steven Bryant; and “Arabesque” by Samuel Hazo – as they competed April 25 against other Class 1A bands.

Junior Lexi Leach, who currently is playing french horn in the band although she plays all brass instruments, said “Arabesque” was her favorite piece to play during competition.

“There is a horn part in ‘Arabesque’ that is fun to play,” she said. “Normally we play on off beats, so it was challenging yet fun.”

While students participate in band class every day, Leach said to reach the level they have takes individual practice time outside of class.

“I practice at least three times a week after school,” Leach said. “Next year, I will bump it up to five times a week.”

The practice has definitely made a difference, according to Stinson, who said the band did a great job on improving on past efforts.

The last time the Morris Community High School band competed at this level and won was in 1993, when the group won the Illinois State University SuperState Band Competition.

“Mr. Stinson has done an excellent job forming an amazingly proficient set of players who follow his lead and as a result are constantly achieving more,” Principal Kelly Hussey said. “Through the use of section leaders and their own dynamic personality, I believe the students have the opportunity to maximize their potential while at our school.”

Stinson said this year’s performance has pushed the students to the next level and next year they hope to do well at SuperState, a higher level of competition.

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