Teens compete at annual Solo and Ensemble competition

Brighton High School hosted over 1,000 students last weekend

Freshman+Anna+Redkozubova%282nd+from+the+right%29+and+her+Solo+and+Ensemble+group+pose+for+their+picture+after+achieving+a+one%2C+the+best+rating%2C+in+their+group+performance.

Freshman Anna Redkozubova(2nd from the right) and her Solo and Ensemble group pose for their picture after achieving a one, the best rating, in their group performance.

Caitlin Warner, Staff Writer

On a cold Friday afternoon, members from 44 schools drove from all over the general southeast Michigan area to perform in front of judges and display their talents. This was the start of the annual district four Solo and Ensemble competition held at Brighton High School, where over 1,000 students from neighboring cities gather to show off their instrumental skills and compete for admission to the upcoming States competition. The competition lasted two days and allowed more than 85 Brighton teens to compete last weekend on Friday and Saturday.

Many people from Brighton High School are involved with making Solo and Ensemble happen every year. One of these people, Laura Wright, ran busily through the halls helping with organization and running last minute errands through the high school. When asked why she thinks this competition is so important to the students competing, Wright said, “[this competition] gives students the opportunity to stretch themselves, to perform their own choice in music and showcase their talents.”

Some of the students competing in this event have been competing since middle school; however, a lot started their freshman or sophomore year of high school. 

Andrew Koster, a senior this year, competed for his third and final time this year, and he was in a total of four events. He practiced for four months outside of class with his group mates in his ensembles and his accompanist for his solo. He believes Solo and Ensemble is important to him because it’s a good way for him to improve his musical proficiency on his chosen instrument, trombone.

Freshman Anna Redkozubova is starting her first year of Solo and Ensemble this year. Redkozubova played the bari saxophone in two groups this year and enjoys the competition because it allows her to “show off skills, and improve on other instruments I don’t usually get to try.”

This competition means a lot to many kids, but every year Brighton High School gets less and less volunteers to help out. This year, the band opened up volunteers opportunities to NHS just to get enough volunteers to be able to host. According to Wright, if Brighton wasn’t able to host, the students would have to deal with many issues related to moving equipment and costs of travel. This would cause so many teens to not be able to express themselves through their music and deprive them of this educational growth and experience.

A lack of volunteers is not the only problem at Solo and Ensemble. While some kids go home with a lucky rating of one, the best score, some end up getting twos or threes, or disqualified altogether. A trombone group from the Brighton High School was disqualified on Saturday afternoon on a technicality. According to Junior Trevin Carlisle, the group was disqualified because of the rule of two people only on a part, when they had three trombones on one of the parts. A part in music is one specific melody, or set of notes, that someone plays. Different instruments may have different parts, and in this case there was a first trombone part with two people playing, and a second trombone part with three people playing it. The group finished playing their arrangement, and the judge’s assistant spoke the words that put a sense of dread in Carlisle’s stomach, “You all know about the rule of two people per part, right? We are going to have to disqualify you based on this technicality.” Both Carlisle and Koster, another member of the group, reported this disappointment as putting a “damper on the rest of the day”. 

Despite the problems, the students still enjoy coming back to Solo and Ensemble every year and look forward to the States competition. The lucky students who got the best score, a one, at the district four competition go to States Solo and Ensemble on March 14, along with earning a medal. This is an exciting competition where recruiters go to find the best performers for their state honors band.