The last time the Midland Lee High School band did not complete the musical year with a Sweepstakes (first divisions in marching, contest and sightreading), Nixon was in the White House, John & Yoko hadn't even held their famous peace-in, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" was the No. 1 song and most of those who are parents of today's Lee band students were still in elementary school. Maybe.
It is a spectacular run that anyone involved in high school music instruction would love to have a piece of. Tuesday night at the Lee auditorium, the Lee honor band achieved that magical milestone -- and it now sets its sites on 50. And think about this one: Were 50 to be achieved, it would be a safe bet that at least one or two of the current members of the program will be back and teaching or assisting in a band program locally.
A friend of mine with whom I went to high school is now the band director of a 5A school in South Texas. Yesterday, his band brought home a Sweepstakes for the first time since 1994. "Forty," he said, "is incredible."
Indeed it is, especially when the music is considered. The Lee band nailed its renditions of "Carmina Burana" and "Angels in the Architecture." I am not a music theory person, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say those pieces are not typical for 16 and 17 year old students. With what seems to be a high degree of difficulty, the two songs are at least pieces of music that strike awe and elicit emotional responses in even the most casual of music fans.
I'm told that after last night's performance, the three judges in the balcony rose for a standing ovation. If that is not unusual, I'd like to know. Congratulations are due to Randy Storie, Paul Meiste and all the assistant directors at Lee who help make it all happen.
It is also rewarding to see student musicians from other schools excel after so many months of dedication, discipline and hard work. Hats off to the Midland High, Odessa High, Odessa Permian and San Angelo Central band programs, all of whom were deservedly decorated with first divisions in concert and sightreading at Tuesday's contest.
Fine arts programs in public schools prove that there doesn't have to be just one winner at the end of a season. If you work hard enough, you simply get what you're working for.
High fives to all the bands in this year's UIL contest.