Several Saipan-based musical bands received “Superior” ratings from a nationally qualified panel of U.S judges during the National Music Festival+ and the Solo & Ensemble Virtual Festival+, which were both held online from April 8 to 10 and April 19 to 24, respectively.
Saipan’s participating music groups—the Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band, Mount Carmel School Wind Orchestra, Mount Carmel School Concert Band, and the Su-san Band—were joined by other music groups and by middle school and high school ensembles from across the nation at the two online festivals and all of Saipan’s participating groups received Superior evaluations, according to SPWCB director Atsuko Eck.
“The accomplishment motivates all of us to continue our activities in the future,” Eck said.
All groups had to pre-record performances that were presented live to a panel of judges from Florida and Hawaii. From there, the judges were able to give constructive comments and their evaluations the moment the presentation ended. The five possible evaluations during the festivals were Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, and Superior and all of Saipan’s music groups got the highest evaluations.
Eck said they got to participate in the virtual competition after the cancellation of this year’s Tumon Bay Music Festivals in Guam due to COVID-19. She said MCS’ bands were able to participate in the 2019 and 2020 Guam festivals in Guam, but were unable to attend this year because the festival was canceled. As a result, MCS’ band director Julian Greening searched for any online band festival or competition and discovered All National Music’s upcoming events.
The events were also great opportunities for the Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band and the Su-san Band, as traveling to off-island events was challenging for the two groups even before the pandemic due to finances and issues with band members’ visas.
“This was a great opportunity for us who [are] living on the island to share our performance with people outside of the island. …Presenting our performances [to the judges] was a nerve-racking thing, but we also have learned many things from it,” Eck said.
Eck, Greening, and their music groups are open to performing at more online music festivals in the future: “Do we [want to] do it again? Absolutely, yes!” said Eck.