Woodwind Trio Wins State

Woodwind Trio Wins State

On Friday, April 26, 2024, ten very talented musicians from Gig Harbor High School – Henry Davis (11), Leah Everling (11), James McCourt (11), Aubrey Wade (11), Taylor Robinson (12), Sofia Simmonds (11), Matthew Moffat (12), Alexa Kotansky (11), Caleb Place (10), and Nex Noland (11) – went to Central Washington University to participate in state band competitions. The solo and ensemble groups performed wonderfully, bringing home a first place win in the woodwind trio category, a wonderful and exciting experience.

James McCourt, Alexa Kotansky, and Taylor Robinson are good friends who prepared for and performed other pieces at state in addition to Divertimento for Flute, Oboe, and Clarinet by Malcolm Arnold, the piece that scored them a first place. “It was pretty hard. There’s not a lot of repertoire for flute oboe clarinet. Three weeks before [regionals] we had to find a new piece for just the three of us and so I found this piece. It was a really hard piece but it was really fun to put together,” said Kotansky. She explained that they threw it together as a replacement for a quintet that they were originally planning right before regional competitions and their advancement to the state level was surprising.

Although they dedicated a lot of their time and effort to making it to state, it was not anticipated that their woodwind performance would be the one to win. “I think we kinda just wanted to have fun. Going into the performance we had worked pretty hard, but also we all just threw it together. It was our extra little thing, so we just wanted to perform as well as we could and have fun,” Kotansky remarked. “We rehearsed at lunch all the time and threw it together right before regionals, and were surprised when we made it to state, and then did it for fun and ended up winning.” The process of putting together such wonderful music with her friends was her favorite part. “We all respect each other as musicians and so we got to share ideas, we all trust that we’re all going to practice, and it’s a really high level of musicianship. It’s really cool to get to work with people like that, who are also cool people on the side, and then to create something that’s really cool,” she said.

McCourt stated, “We got first place in the small woodwind category, so that was probably my favorite part.” With the results posted while McCourt was performing in a percussion ensemble, Kotansky and Robinson had to keep it a secret until their fellow musician was finished, after which they celebrated. “That was super hype,” recalled Robinson, “I was pretty excited.” Kotansky described, “We all celebrated, and took pictures, and Mr Swanson was there, and all of our parents were there, and there were some tears. It was very exciting.” Their first place win was the first of its kind for Gig Harbor High School’s band. “We’ve had people place at state before, but I don’t recall anybody winning, so it’s a good thing to win first,” said Mr. Swanson.

Apart from winning, their experience at state was a great one. Though none of them placed, all three of them performed well in their solos. They had a great time watching their peers perform. “They were all super good,” Robinson noted. McCourt said that one of his favorite parts was, “…Just hanging out with everyone in the whole group of people that was with us, so families and friends and other people who were at state.”

Mr. Swanson, the band teacher at Gig Harbor High School, was very happy with the outcome of their hard work. He praised their exceptional commitment. “We have three really exceptional, committed, very talented individuals,” he said. “They invest in themselves, they practice, they take private lessons, they study. And then they decided to come together and do a piece together to compete. They really showed a lot of commitment and drive to do well together and collaborate.” Congratulations to the woodwind trio for an exceptional performance and remarkable achievement!