The VAHS band and choir made a successful return from a state competition on May 29, where 38 band students and two choir students were privileged to compete at the University Interscholastic League State Solo and Ensemble contest over the weekend.

Out of the 40 students present, seven earned first division medals, while 13 claimed second division medals for solo performances, the Van Alstyne Band Facebook page said. Additionally first division medals were awarded to the 15-member Brass/Percussion ensemble and the saxophone quartet, amounting to a total of 39 medals for Van Alstyne.

The Texas State Solo-Ensemble contest was held on May 27, 28, and 29 at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville ISD. The weekend long event also included Percussion and Twirling Contests at Connally High School.

Tim Fulton, who directs the high school band, said that students start the process of performing solo at a regional level. This includes judges rating each performance in accordance with a statewide scale that does not compare each student to each other.

Students who are able to perform their solos from memory in order to receive a First Division then advance to the Texas State Solo-Ensemble, which Fulton said is held annually near Austin in the last weekend of May.

“Students who compete perform for judges with national and international experience, often major symphony performers and college educators,” said Fulton.

Fulton added that students who earn First Division at the Solo-Ensemble are awarded the honor of a state gold medal.

In upcoming band news, judging for the state level of the Association of Texas Small School Bands Outstanding Performance Series will take place on July 20 at the Texas Bandmaster’s Association Convention in San Antonio.

Both the high school and middle school enter this audition program each year, with winning bands receiving a compact disc of their selections that are made available to public radio stations and ATSSB-eligible bands.

Fulton said the middle school band has qualified with their UIL piece “Heroes Triumphant,” while the high school band has two qualifying pieces titled “Emblem of Unity March” and “In the Center Ring.”

The middle school band is led by Sydney Cooper, with John Apodaca serving as the percussion and choir director for Van Alstyne.