Friday, January 27, 2023

Bowie Band opens marching season with a resounding win

October 10, 2014  

by Ann Fowler

ROUND ROCK –  In its first competition of the 2014 marching season, the James Bowie High School Outdoor Performing Ensemble was named the Bands of America (BOA) Austin Regional Champion on Sept. 27, earning the highest scores in both preliminary and finals performances.

Twenty-five bands performed at the competition, which was held at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Round Rock.

Bowie senior Chase Morton, baritone section leader, told the Gazette, “BOA Austin was a great win for us. Even though we still have a lot of work to do, that performance was stellar. We are ready with dedication and commitment to the finish and success of our show.”

The Bowie 2014 show, “If a Tree Falls…,” is a lighthearted representation of life in the forest. The band members represent trees with silver birch patterns on the uniforms and branches, rather than plumes, emerging from their caps. The color guard represents frolicking woodland animals.

The show’s musical selections included “Songs from the Wood” by Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson, “Puck One” by Elvis Costello, “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy and “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky.

Bowie oboe player Josh Owens tests the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest (and nobody is there to hear it) … does it make a sound?” Standing on a 3-foot-high platform painted to resemble the trunk of a silver birch, Owens finished his solo, set down his oboe, crossed his arms and fell straight back. The sound? Gasps from thousands of audience members who couldn’t see the air mattress behind the platform that cushioned his fall.

It was a wow moment.

The James Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble is under the direction of Kim Shuttlesworth, assisted by Ryan Thomas, Amy Suggs and Matt Atkinson. The director of the color guard is Joey Powell. Drum Majors are Jordan Dinkins, Kaden Wood and Sami Funderburgh. Jordan is the daughter of Bruce Dinkins, Bowie’s beloved longtime band director who died unexpectedly in 2011.

As with all marching competitions in Texas, representatives of the volunteer organization,, blogged throughout the competition to give the marching band play-by-play for those unable to attend.

Daniel Sanchez wrote of Bowie’s preliminary performance, “James Bowie—If a Tree Falls—Nice warm sounds all around to start from the woodwind choir through the brass.

“The guard does a lot of awesome work through the percussion feature that just keeps going and going as you hear all the sounds of the forest life. The slow marching and body moves in the 2nd piece are expertly done along with nice crisp articulations. Claire de Lune is so warm and embracing, with gorgeous double flag work and the oboe falling from his tree. The Rite of Spring hits were nice big punches to close. This show will be really cool by the end of the season.”

Added blogger Daniel Valdez, “James Bowie. These guys can play any dynamic, at any time. Marvelous. The percussion feature was very clever and well performed considering the staging. Clean visuals and movements. Bowie always performs well. Always.”

The high school marching band season begins in the heat of July, with hundreds of young musicians giving up their summer leisure to learn the performance steps and music during practices held largely outdoors. The members of the color guard work equally long and hard hours on their routine, that will ultimately mesh with the band’s. When school starts, the practices often occur before the morning bell. Bands have a full routine ready when competition starts in late September, but over the next four to six weeks the band will add to and perfect their 8-minute performance.

For its preliminary performance, Bowie earned the high score for the round: 83.75 of a possible 100, placing first in the BOA 4A group for schools with enrollment of 1,675 or more. In addition, the group earned the awards for best music, best visual and best general effect in 4A.

After the Bowie performance in finals, blogger Daniel Valdez wrote, “James Bowie. Beautiful playing. Simply gorgeous. Awesome work!”

Bowie band director Kim Shuttlesworth said, “We are very excited about this season and the growth of the program. The students work extremely hard. This was a great reward for all their efforts so far. Thank you to the parents and community for their continued support.”


Proud parents

As you can imagine, there was no shortage of proud parents.

Debbie Alkire, mom to sophomore mellophone player Michaela Alkire, told the Gazette, “As a 6th-year parent with the Bowie band, this fine-tuned machine we call the James Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble never ceases to blow me away with their talent. Each new season I watch and wonder if they can possibly top the emotions and beauty of the previous year’s show—and each year as the new show progresses, I just shake my head in amazement and say ‘heck yeah!’ Watching them compete last Saturday made my heart race with excitement. There is nothing quite like watching them perform. I can’t wait to see how the show progresses through the competition season. I have no doubt it will take your breath away.”

“As a parent of a Bowie Band member I am so proud,” said Doris Humphrey, whose son, sophomore Dylan Humphrey, is a baritone. “This is our second year. I already know I’m going to miss it when it’s over. All the bands were great. I’ve seen how hard it is to put this type of production together. Kudos to all who participated.”

Ana Lewis, mother of Cameran (Pit) and Victoria (Guard), told the Gazette, “I am a firm believer that your attitude determines your altitude. The entire band, guard, directors and support staff have an amazing attitude that has surpassed and will continue to surpass the highest of altitudes.”

Linda Rodriguez, mother of freshman trumpet player Jacob Rodriguez, said, “Being a parent of a freshman, I had no idea what to expect. Watching these kids represent Bowie High School perfectly every moment they were there—from standing in line waiting to perform to holding hands in unity while they waited to hear finals results. Each student made me proud. They won with grace and humility. These are true leaders-in-the-making! Congratulations to students, directors and parents of these amazing kids! Job well done!”

“My daughter, Veronica Cortez, is a senior and plays piccolo as well as the piccolo solo in the show,” Kim Cortez told the Gazette. “It is truly amazing to see the progression of the work these kids and the directors put in. I am blown away by the talent and dedication of these students. They make us proud as parents! This year’s show is so much fun, with stellar musicians and color guard. It is fantastic to see them rewarded in such tough competition.”

Marcial and Christine Besinaiz went to Round Rock to watch their son, Brandon, a freshman who plays the xylophone and cymbals. Christine said, “I think they did great. We love to come to come watch them. It’s so exciting. It makes us proud to see our son perform any time they have a game.”

Marcial noted that early in the season they see just bits and pieces. “When you come here, you get to see the entire masterpiece come together, and it’s really nice. I’m really proud of him.”

Kevin Wood is president of the Bowie Band Boosters, a group that works tirelessly to support the band. He is also dad to drum major Kaden Wood. After the preliminary performance he said, “They did a terrific job today. They came out strong, they played well, marched well, it was a good performance overall. I think they beat those nerves that always are a problem and did a great job.”

And parents were not the only proud spectators. Stephen Howard was assistant band director last year at Bowie. He is now Director of Bands at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, but he couldn’t resist wearing last year’s Bowie show shirt and coming to cheer on his former students. He said, “I thought they were wonderful on Saturday night. I teared up a bit during Clair de Lune. They just sounded so incredible. The color guard was phenomenal. I really enjoyed their performance! It makes me so proud to have been a part of that organization.”

Howard said the Ann Richards Marching Stars compete in USBands rather than BOA, and will attend their first competition of the season next week at the USBands Regional at New Braunfels High School.


‘Best September Regional’

The bloggers commented on the caliber of the performances top to bottom at BOA Austin.’s Sanchez said, “This was a great regional! This is hands-down the best September regional that I have ever seen.”

Bowie was able to best their preliminary score in finals performance, earning 84.30 points. They won the best visual and best music awards, and tied with Leander High School for best general effect in finals.

Bowie will have a busy marching season. Future competitions include the BOA Super Regional in San Antonio on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, and they hope to earn a spot in State competition in November.

The band will also perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade.

The James Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble performs at home football games for those who want to see “If a Tree Falls…”.




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