Bulldog Band Wins Gold At State

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The Crockett Independent School District (CISD) sent several soloists and an octet to the state music finals – bringing home two gold medals and one silver, while choosing complex and uncommon pieces, which stood out to the judges. 

The Bulldog musicians faced stiff competition from around the state and the competition rules don’t make the task any easier. Soloists must memorize their pieces and are not allowed sheet music when playing for the judges. 

Sophomore and Soloist Joel Sanchez, earned a silver medal on his solo, “And The Kitchen Sink,” surprising CISD Director of Bands Dana Moore, when she found out Sanchez was only choosing the most difficult pieces for his performances. 

Soloist Leonbert Pare, flutist, earned a gold medal playing Schuman’s “Three Romances.” Moore said 11th-grader Pare is an amazing technical flutist, having played since the fifth grade and on his third time going to state finals. Moore decided to throw a more romantic and spiritual piece his way this year, to show off how he could express feeling in the music, too. The gold medal proved her instincts correct as Pare rose to the challenge. 

The CISD octet ensemble brought home another gold medal, choosing a new and unique piece written for the Houston Symphony Orchestra by Gabriel Musella, “Noches del Caribe.” The Latin-inspired piece was a unique challenge for the students and being a newer piece, there wasn’t much guidance on how to interpret it. 

“The rhythms are very difficult, and a lot of times, when students are first looking at their solos or ensembles, they have the luxury of going online and listening to a piece of music someone else has recorded,” Moore said. “But this piece is so new and not very many people have performed it. So this year the students had to work hard at figuring out styles and rhythms and all of that.”

The Bulldog Octet ensemble, after their gold-medal-winning performance at the state competition, as they listen to feedback from the judges.

While they swapped a few of the original instruments, the group not only mastered the piece, but won the respect not only of the judges, but the composer himself. Musella had written the music for a retiring oboe player and as it turns out, is also the Assistant UIL Music Director for the state of Texas. Present at the competition, he was overwhelmed the Crockett kids had chosen his song and took a minute to get to know them and pose with them once they received their gold medals. 

“He was really excited and he came out and said we were the first ones to perform this piece at the state level. As far as he know, we were the first ones to perform this piece at all,” Moore said. “We told him how we had tried to find a recording and weren’t successful at that. And he promised he would send that to us, so the kids could hear the original version.”

The CISD Octet Ensemble consisted of:

Leonbert Pare – flute

Alonzo Cervantes – flute

Joel Sanchez – percussion

Joseph Tuggle – tenor saxophone 

Marcus Moore – bassoon

Mia Gonzalez – clarinet

Lauryn Griffin – clarinet

Stephanie Gonzalez – baritone saxophone

Moore said the kids were confident when going into perform, but when she asked if she could sit in and listen, the kids asked her to kindly wait outside. Having the teacher in the room at the big state competition can increase butterflies in one’s stomach. Moore happily obliged and the students received both constructive criticism and praise from the judges on their performances. 

The band will take most of the summer off, while instruments are repaired and serviced. Moore said while the band will lose about 15 seniors to graduation, she was happy to report about that same number of graduating eighth graders should join the group in the fall. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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