Review by Andrew Wainwright
Camp Hoblitzelle was the scene for the Texas Division’s 2016 Spring Festival, held on Saturday April 16th. This year it was a Spring Festival with a difference, however, as an exciting new initiative, Lone Star Search was launched. Based on the USA Eastern Territory’s Star Search competition, it is a solo competition which has been created to:
• Inspire the growth of soloists;
• Offer a goal to work toward becoming the best in their chosen field;
• Present an opportunity to perform, and expand abilities that will help both corps and divisional level music programs;
• Become true musicians whose sole purpose is to glorify God with their gifts.
These objectives were more than met as some 40 participants, aged between seven and 22, took part. Things got under way bright and early as the first round of the competition kicked off, after a hearty breakfast at 8.30am. Divided into four categories: brass, dance, drama and percussion, there were also four levels:
Level One: Ages 7-10
Level Two: Ages 11-14
Level Three: Ages 15-18
Level Four: Ages 19-22
The assigned judges, assembled from DHQ and various corps around the Division, made detailed notes for each participant, offering helpful feedback and positive critique. The schedule was organized such that each brass performer would be allowed a few minutes to rehearse with their respective pianist, before going on to play in front of the judges and interested onlookers. Two hours later, numbers were quickly collated and crunched to determine who would make it through to the final round, to be held at the chapel.
Of the initial 40 participants, nine were selected to progress to the final, including six brass players. After much discussion between the four judges and great anticipation in the audience, Lt. Col. Ken Luyk, Lt. Lars Ljungholm, Matt Broome and Chloe Hu, a winner from each of the four levels was decided, in addition to the overall winner. Bass trombonist Bryan Rios, who put in an outstanding performance of Prelude and Scherzo on Leaning, took away the 1st prize of $500.
As had been mentioned several times during the day, it takes a brave person to stand up and perform in front of an audience, so congratulations go to everyone who took part in the competition. Regardless of whether they qualified for the final or not, we in the Music Department are proud of everyone who took part and believe the opportunity to participate in such an event is a highly valuable experience. As Divisional Music Director Matt Broome put it in his vote of thanks, “We now have 40 items ready to go for Sunday morning worship”. Thanks go to all who participated, and in particular the music team, judges, piano accompanists and door monitors without whom the event could not have happened. It is hoped this is just the dawn of the Lone Star Search competition and that it will find a place in the divisional calendar for many years to come.
Brass Level 1 - Sophia King*
Brass Level 2 - Amalia Munoz*
Brass Level 3 - Matthew Burn* & Dawson Booth
Drama Level 3 - Derick Twinney* & Mireya Gomez
Brass Level 4 - Bryan Rios* & David New
Percussion Level 4 - Kaitlin Chambless*
*Denotes winners for each category
Overall winner - Bryan Rios
Late the night before, each of the divisional groups had been rehearsing fervently for the Spring Festival the next day, which was to take place after Lone Star Search. A varied program ranging from brass and vocal through to drama and hip hop kicked off with Texas Brass (Leader: Andrew Wainwright) joining forces with Texas Creative Arts (Leader: Chloe Hu) in the evocative O Church Arise, which featured trumpet soloist Matthew Burn. Next, Bluebonnet Brass (Leader: Sara Elliott) demonstrated how much progress they had made in a few short months with two numbers they had been rehearsing, I love you Lord and Jesus loves me.
Lonestar Creative Arts (Leader: Chloe Hu) gave us food for thought in Stop and Listen and God Spoke, while Lonestar Brass (Leader: Jeff Crabtree) presented the patriotic America the Beautiful and the upbeat Wade in the water. One of the facets of the Texas divisional music program is that each young person gets to participate in a chorus, and in the Divisional Singing Company we had many of the younger musicians given the chance to sing their hearts out in I’m a soldier and A simple prayer. The progression of the program was demonstrated later when the Divisional Chorus (Leader: Ben Howard), featuring a number of adults who have come through the divisional music program, sang Psalm 46 (There is a river).
Texas Brass’s other contributions to the program were the beautiful Soli Deo Gloria, which features the song Jesus, name above all names, and in complete contrast the buoyant There’s no-one, there’s no-one like Jesus, an arrangement of a traditional African song which featured different sections of the band standing up. Either side of Texas Creative Art’s inspiring dance to the hip hop song Manolo, Texas Division’s Musician of the Year and Anthony Callaway Creative Artist of the Year were announced, the former being presented to Kaitlin Chambless and latter to Mireya Gomez. Both awards were thoroughly deserved for the commitment that these two young ladies put into their involvement in divisional groups, as well as their home corps on a week-to-week basis.
Texas Divisional Band (Leader: Matt Broome) closed the program with two lively items based on contemporary worship songs, Worthy is the lamb and Let there be light. It brought to an end an action-packed day, the impact of which will no doubt be felt across the Division for some time to come.