Norwich takes home top honors at Sherburne’s Pageant of Bands

SHERBURNE – The Norwich City School District was the big winner at this weekend’s 59th Annual Pageant of the Bands in Sherburne, taking home four first place wins out of its six competitions.

Norwich was honored with an impromptu parade through the streets of Norwich Saturday night, led by the Norwich Fire Department, in honor of the band’s success at the tournament. Band Director Gretchen Shyne, in her first year at Norwich, led the school to victories for jazz ensemble, the symphonic band, the drum line and the marching band in the Class AAA division. The school also participated in the small ensemble competition, a new category this year for woodwind groups with four to 12 members. Norwich took second place in its class for that competition.

In addition, the school won the Class AAA Best in Class trophy, the Frank L. Miller Best Director trophy, and for the first time in 45 years, the Albert Whitney Overall Achievement Award.

Shyne said the performances were some of the best the students have had all year, and everything just clicked. “The really played from the heart,” Shyne said. Despite the heat and the very real effect it can have on the students and the instruments, Shyne said the students battled through it and stepped up to give the best performance possible. “I’d still be pleased no matter what we placed, because that was the best they could have done,” she said.

Norwich has competed in the pageant for years, but according to information from one of the parents, Shyne said it has been at least 45 years since the school was awarded the Albert Whitney Overall Achievement Award. She credited the success to factors like the school’s fall field band competitions. “Few other schools do the fall competitive season like we do. It almost makes the spring easy, because we know how to put things together,” Shyne said.

When asked how she felt about winning the Frank L. Miller Best Director Award, Shyne again credited the students. “I’m sure that was because the kids performed so great for me,” she said. Shyne has been teaching band for 22 years, and has taken students to the pageant before. She was also a judge approximately five years ago, but this is her first year leading the Tornado band.

Other big winners in the area included Oxford Academy and Central School which took several top five finishes, including second place in Class A jazz ensemble competition, second place in the cadence competition, third place in the concert band event, second place in small ensemble and second place in the parade competition. The Oxford middle school / junior band also took third place in the jazz ensemble competition and fifth place in the concert band event.

Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton took first place in the Class C concert band event, second place in the jazz ensemble competition and third place in the parade competition. GMU was awarded the Best in Class award for the Class C division.

Best in Class awards were also given to Laurens (Class D), Newfield (Class B), West Canada Valley (Class A) and Bloomfield (Class AA).

“It was an excellent pageant,” said Sherburne Band Director Jeff Manwaring. “Everything went really smooth, and I attribute that to the team effort of everyone involved, the firemen, the booster club, my students who worked at the pageant all three days and the custodial staff,” Manwaring said. He gave special acknowledgment to the tabulators, who compile the scores. “The tabulators have a tough job. There’s a lot of stress and the numbers have to be perfect,” he said. “But it all came together, and we appreciate their efforts.”

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