A.B.O.D.A. Excellence

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First of all, what is A.B.O.D.A.? The Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing performance-based assessments of school musical groups. These assessments give immediate feedback to the performers so that they can improve going forward. Performances in these festivals are scored by the following rankings: Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, and Superior. For the first time, ACP’s high school orchestra joined the junior high and high school bands in performing at the A.B.O.D.A. festival. 

On Tuesday, March 6, I excitedly boarded the bus along with my fellow classmates and arrived at our destination, Desert Ridge High School, at around 1:00. After setting our instruments aside in a small front room, we watched performances from another high school orchestra and a band. I thought it was a nice way to get used to the new surroundings and to see where we would perform in a couple of hours. Around 2:30 it was time for us to quietly leave the auditorium and head over to a warm-up room. We spent most of our time there making sure everyone was in tune, but Mr. Salomone also had us play the beginning of each piece to remind ourselves what pace they needed be. Sometimes on stage, nerves tend to kick in and somehow everything goes faster than normal, which is why it was important for us to double check how fast we took the songs. The beginning is also one of the most important parts of any song, along with the ending, so we wanted to make sure it sounded strong. We were then lead to the stage at 3:00 for our performance.

At first, I was a bit anxious as I always am, but after a few measures of Argent Edge by Doug Spata, I had become so consumed by the music I was almost able to forget about the three judges whispering comments, for a recording they gave to our director later, in the back of the room.  Argent Edge is a fun, adventurous song that seems to soar through the air, weaving its story. After finishing the song, we moved on to our required piece, Sinfonia No. 2 in D Major by Felix Mendelssohn. Being a classical song filled with baroque movements of fast paced notes, Sinfonia was challenging to put together. With a triumphant ending to the piece, we paused for a moment before beginning our final song. King of Pop, arranged by Johnnie Vinson, is a medley of Michael Jackson songs including Thriller and Man In the Mirror.  Since the song was more upbeat and energetic, it was fun rocking out to it. It also helped that  we had performed King of Pop at our first semester concert along with Argent Edge. However, there was one more thing we had to do. Making our way off of the stage, a volunteer lead us to a room down a hall. Here, a clinician greeted us and asked us to play a few sections of Sinfonia for him. While adding in a few jokes to lighten the mood, he taught us about some techniques we could improve upon, such as keeping a steadier pace during passages full of rows of short, fast notes. The feedback was very useful and will help us become a better orchestra.

We were informed that two of the judges gave us Excellent ratings, and the other judge gave us a Superior rating. Our score averaged out to an Excellent. This means we qualify for state, which Mr. Salomone has already signed us up for to perform at the Chandler Center for the Arts on April 26th. Our junior high band received an Excellent rating as well, and our high school band received a Good rating. Congratulations to everyone in orchestra and band, and good luck in your future adventures!

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