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Liberty bands impress judges at Alabama State Music Performance Assessment

"The band learned that hard work and dedication can really pay off," Liberty band director Rakoff said.

Liberty Middle School bands left the stage with confidence at the Alabama State Music Performance Assessment.

The Liberty Wind Ensemble received a “superior with distinction” rating, director Gwen Rakoff said. The Liberty Concert Band received an excellent rating. A superior rating requires a performance at the highest musical and technical level.

Exiting the stage, the Liberty Lions knew they had delivered “a fantastic performance,” Rakoff said. She saw confidence and satisfaction on their faces.

A more experienced student asked, “Was that as good as I think it was?” Rakoff told him, “Yes.”

Judges compared the Liberty Wind Ensemble to most high school bands and said, “very expressive and musical — well beyond your years.”

“The band learned that hard work and dedication can really pay off,” Rakoff said. “They come in every day and work as a group towards a common goal. It’s very rewarding when that goal is realized.”

Liberty performed “Emblem of Unity” by J.J. Richards, a march with fast technical passages and strong brass lines. “The grandiose ending (has) an energetic melody line for low brass with a flying accompaniment in upper woodwinds,” Rakoff said.

David Holsinger’s “On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss,” based on the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” “weaves beautiful moving harmonies,” Rakoff said. “Encanto” by Robert W. Smith featured freshmen flutist Katie Miller and trumpeter Eric Bean as soloists.

The adjudication panel included Elva Kay Lance, Mississippi State University; Randall Coleman, University of Alabama; and Mickey Fisher, Dalton, Ga. Ski Winter from Jemison, Ala. judged sight-reading.

“The judges did a great job this year. They were absolutely fair and consistent throughout the two-day festival,” Rakoff said. “Their comments were accurate and helpful without being too harsh or critical.”

The assessment isn’t a competition. Bands are judged against the highest standards of musical performance with judges using a rubric to rate each band.

The Liberty Wind Ensemble is rehearsing intensely for Orlando’s Festival Disney in April.

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