By Ann Fowler
The James Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, last weekend to compete against 31 bands in the Bands of America (BOA) Super Regional. Bowie swept the Class AAAA awards (music, visual, general effect) in preliminaries and captured the Class AAAA Title.
In finals, the band won the music caption but missed the championship by less than one point. The second place achievement matches the placement Bowie earned at the San Antonio Super Regional in 2005. Tarpon Springs, a Florida band, won the championship.
In a season dedicated to Bowie band director Bruce Dinkins, who passed away suddenly last June, the marching band became the BOA Arlington Regional champion — a first for Bowie. A week later the band took first place at the storm-drenched Westlake Marching Festival.
This year’s show is called “The Promise of Winter” with music from composers Walton, Respighi and Shostakovich. Ryan George arranged the music, and Jeremy Hunt designed the drill. The band is led by Director Kim Shuttlesworth and Assistant Directors Ryan Thomas, Stephen Howard and Amy Suggs. The assistant color guard director is Cedric Stanley. Drum majors are Kaci French, Emma Graves, Kyle Ponder and Brent Smith.
Summer Stark, a freshman percussionist, said the 20-hour bus ride to Atlanta was long but fun. She told the Gazette, “The overall experience of the band trip was so exciting! Just being able to see rain and feel cold compared to Austin put everyone in a good mood for this trip.”
Of course the students were not the only ones traveling. The band directors and a significant number of parents traveled to Atlanta, too, many as chaperones. Veronica Ramirez told the Gazette, “The Atlanta BOA trip is one of the most memorable trips ever! I enjoyed meeting many of the band parents and it was finally good to put a face to the names. The bus ride was wonderful, filled with games, movies and conversation as well as time to enjoy the scenery. I would most definitely do it all over again!”
Once in Atlanta, Stark enjoyed the opportunity to watch other bands. She said, “I think the best part of the trip was being able to hang out on the buses and watching the other schools we went against. One school did a marching performance that was supposed to be a zombie apocalypse, and another school did theirs to Alice in Wonderland!”
The parents also had the opportunity to watch the other bands, but their main focus was on Bowie. Said Ramirez, “Watching our kids march always brings a tear to my eye no matter where they place. Our students, directors and volunteer parents truly go out of the way to make it all happen and I’m so pleased to be called a Bowie Band Parent.”
Daniel Sanchez of www.txbands.com said of Bowie’s performance in Atlanta, “As the show went on, the crowd support grew and grew. The sound is fantastic and they look a lot cleaner visually than earlier in the year.”
Band parent Ken Trautwein said, “I was part of the pit crew for the Atlanta show. While the band was waiting to take the field, they looked into the stands and could see all the Bowie band parents/supporters. The parents had made snowflakes and were holding them up waving and cheering. I heard one of the color guard members remark, “Look at the snowflakes!” It definitely made an impression on them.”
Band parent Diane Hume, whose son Jacob is a senior and battery captain, told the Gazette, “There is very little better for a teenager’s ego than to have a crowd applauding and screaming after a performance.”
For many of these young men and women, it was the performance of a lifetime. Jacob Hume told his mom, “The Finals performance in Atlanta was the most memorable of my time at Bowie. The staff came together and delivered some amazing advice and guidance before the show, and we had a great show because of their inspiration.”
At least one other band member had even more inspiration in Atlanta. Junior Carl Trautwein plays tenor saxophone in the band. His grandmother, Marion Trautwein, passed away a few days before the competition. Carl went to New Jersey with his family to attend the funeral on Friday, where he was one of the pallbearers. He arrived in Atlanta Friday night in time to rehearse before Saturday’s competition. Carl dedicated his performance to the memory of his grandmother. His dad said, “It will always be a special memory for me.”
If this were a Hollywood script, Bowie would have gone to Atlanta and won the Super Regional Championship. But the narrow loss may eradicate any suspicion that BOA was awarding Bowie “pity points” this year in the wake of Dinkins’ death. Bowie’s high placement in such a large competition is a testament to the band’s ability and fortitude, said Sanchez. Thirty other bands wish they had scored as high. Tarpon Springs, the winner of the event, has won a dozen BOA Grand Championship titles in Georgia and Florida. Bowie proved they are among the best, not only in Texas, but in the nation.
Mona Slack’s son, sophomore Adam Slack, plays clarinet in the band. She said, “As a Bowie parent who attended the performance in Atlanta, I was told by five different people who supported other competing bands that Bowie was by far the best performing band there. One woman even said she had chills watching them perform. To me, that far outweighed any awards we received!”
Added Hume, “As a mother, I will say that Jacob’s involvement with Bowie’s Outdoor Ensemble has been a fantastic experience for him. He learned that working really hard for something is worth the effort. He has been able to work as a team with a diverse group of people to achieve their goals. The quality of his musical ability seems to have doubled each year he has been at Bowie.”
A band parent with the user name “Bowie Freshman Mom” posted on the txbands.com forum: “I am so very proud of Bowie. Every step they take and every note they play is a testament to Mr. Dinkins, and his motto, ‘To all those who enter … you are subject to the relentless, refining process of music through uncompromising standards.’ ”
The James Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble has one more competition this year — the BOA San Antonio Super Regional this weekend.