MHS Band Takes Bronze at MICCA

Music is a way people can convey their feelings and it’s everywhere. The oldest instrument, the flute, dates all the way back to 40,000 years. Made from bird bones, the flute was the best way modern humans could have spent their time.

Nowadays, music has been separated into many different categories, from rock to gospel. The Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) is one of the many opportunities high schools are able to display their talents from certain genres of music. As the band director Miss O’Brien-Mazza puts it, “[one of our goals] was to improve from last year “. Certainly, there are certain guidelines to the competition as Mazza and clarinetist Sebastian Romani explained, “in MICCA there are three certain categories you need to choose.” For instance, “[there are] two requirements you have to follow. [Each band has to] select a certain march, pick a song based on the list of songs [they provide] based on a level, and the last [is chosen by the director].” Each level is based on difficulty, one being for beginners and six being advanced players. O’Brien-Mazza chose to conduct a level four music piece, which is for a band that has good rhythmic abilities and is able to perform music at this level.

Come Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 the Malden High School band woke up bright and early to get on their way towards Hopkinton, Massachusetts. As they get closer to Hopkinton High School, the band started to warm up and tune. Performing at twelve o’clock on the dot, Malden High School’s band started of with a march composed by John Philip Sousa called The Washington Post.

After performing their arrangement, they moved on to a more formal piece called Amazing Grace composed by Frank Ticheli. This piece was composed and arranged in 1994. As Ticheli explained to Manhattan Beach Music, “[he] wanted [his] setting of [Amazing Grace] to reflect the powerful simplicity of the words and melody – to be sincere, to be direct, to be honest – and not through the use of novel harmonies and clever tricks, but by traveling traditional paths in search of truth and authenticity.” Amazing Grace was chosen by O’Brien-Mazza because “it had intonation and was quite different than the other two pieces.”

Variation On a Korean Folks Song was composed by John Barnes Chance in 1965. This musical piece consists many variations on the Korean folk song “Arirang”. Chance composed this song based on the same Korean folk songs he heard while in South Korea with the U.S. army.

After winning a bronze medal at MICCA, Malden High School’s Band would return to MHS to start working on their spring show. As O’Brien-Mazza explained,”[the band will be] starting day at the high school [where] seventh and eighth graders [will improve] playing [with high school students] and get to know each other. [The band] will play at Boston Symphony Orchestra with other schools [and the final thing is a] big secret everyone will have to stay tuned for.” Next year band director, O’Brien-Mazza hopes “to improve on more members [joining because] [the band] only has three main instrument groups [and wants to play more pieces] that include the brass section more. Band wise, [they] need to improve on intonation, blending together, dynamics, and articulations.”

As the year comes to an end, O’Brien-Mazza is grateful that “this year the freshmen [were] very strong and pulled through [to help them] at MICCA this year.” Come next year, a handful of seniors will be in college and MHS’s band will welcome their new members.  

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