By Jayelin Haines
On Sat., Feb. 8, Batavia High School hosted a band festival for the younger concert bands of surrounding high schools in the area, the only one in the state of Illinois. There are many events like this for the older bands in high school but none for the younger ones so Chris Owen changed that. Owen, one of the band teachers at BHS, created the Batavia Band Festival and it had been a dream of his throughout most of his teaching career.
“The Batavia Band Festival does not allow the best bands from each school to perform – we only allow students in second, third, fourth bands or if their school has only one band to perform. This allows us to give a top-quality experience to those students that do not always receive one,” Owen said.
However, this event could not have been possible without the help from the Batavia Music Buffs. They fund the festival and the profits they earn bring in about $4,500 to purchase and repair instruments, buy music, award scholarships to graduating music students, and run more events like this one at BHS.
“Each year differs but last year we earned about $4,500 and this year we are aiming for $5,000,” Owen said.
The Batavia Band Festival gives the opportunity for younger bands at the high school level to get judged by retired music teachers and college professors. The bands each get a 30-minute performance slot to express their musical talent in the Batavia Fine Arts Center. Then the bands receive written feedback, recorded feedback, and get to go through a 45-minute clinic with one of the judges directly after the performance.
“It took five years of collecting feedback and soliciting surveys from local schools, judges, and directors to develop the best way to operate this festival,” Owen said. “For example, we do not give out awards, ratings, or placements – the act of performing art for one another and having wonderful, experienced educators give clinics after each band’s performance is our goal and has been met with many educators coming back each and every year for the experiences we provide.”
Owen does not run this full day of music all on his own. The Tri-M music honors society’s board and members are also a part of the event. The Tri-M board helps with most of the organization with the volunteers and they handle all the smaller problems that pop up throughout the day. Mia Chahmirzadi, the Tri-M president, was there throughout the day to manage some of these.
“To help the event move smoothly, the student leadership takes care of the small problems or the day would never end,” Chahmirzadi said. “For example, a band showed up late and it could have eaten away at another band’s time but instead we sent them straight to their warm-up room. This saved a ton of time and kept everything on schedule. Other than that, the day went smoothly and could not have gone better!”