Kentridge musicians have happy tune to sing

At an awards ceremony emceed by the wizard Merlin and accented by performances by Mickey Mouse and Goofy, the Kentridge High School music department recently proved its sound can be heard far outside Kent city limits.

  • Thursday, May 1, 2008 6:13pm
  • News

More than 200 students of Kentridge High School bands

Take top honors at Disneyland

At an awards ceremony emceed by the wizard Merlin and accented by performances by Mickey Mouse and Goofy, the Kentridge High School music department recently proved its sound can be heard far outside Kent city limits.

More than 200 students from Kentridge bands, choirs and orchestra travelled to Anaheim, Calif., for the Heritage Music Festival, earning the Disneyland-based event’s top honor based on their combined scores.

“We have a solid program here, and this is starting to become a habit,” said Dave Baldock, band director at Kentridge. “We always know that we’ll play well, but this is sort of becoming a tradition to go someplace else and show the rest of the country what we have going here at Kentridge High School.”

The music department takes a big trip every few years, the director said, and this year, its members flew to Disneyland for one of a series of Heritage Music Festivals that take place at different national sites each year. The musicians left March 26, and when they returned March 30, they were carrying an array of awards and one particularly giant trophy.

“We had to take the trophy apart to put it on the airplane,” Baldock said.

The one-day competition featured performances by music ensembles from a number of schools around the country, all scrutinized by college-level adjudicators and given scores based on their quality. Among the approximately 2,500 student musicians to perform were those from Kentridge bands Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band, choirs Divina Voce, Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the String Orchestra.

Led by Baldock, the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band both earned gold awards, placing second in their division. Led by Director Anthony Giles, Divina Voce and Concert Choir earned gold awards and placed first in their division. The Vocal Jazz Ensemble earned a gold award and placed second. Led by Conductor Dave Couch, the String Orchestra earned a silver award and placed second in its division.

“It’s really nice to see a department that works hard get recognized, especially in a place so far away from home,” said senior Ryan Morales, 18, who plays tenor saxophone in both bands. “It’s kind of fun to go down there and represent what we do up here in Washington.”

Additional awards were also earned by soloists of the Kentridge ensembles, and the Jazz Band earned the prestigious Adjudicators Award, given to bands whose average scores are at least 93 out of 100.

It all added up for the school’s music department, and at the Merlin-emceed awards ceremony at Disneyland, Kentridge was called on stage to accept the event’s top Sweepstakes Award.

“It was exciting because they made a big deal about it,” said senior Craig Van Bruggen, 18, who plays alto saxophone in both bands. “There was confetti everywhere and the Disney characters came out and started dancing and stuff.”

As seniors, Van Bruggen and fellow band member Morales both agree the trip marked a crowning achievement in their high-school music careers.

“It’s not just a class that lasts just one year,” Morales said. “You get to move up in the program each year and really become a part of it. It’s definitely been a fun experience to see the program grow.”

It’s been a good year for the music department, agreed Baldock. The Wind Ensemble in February earned another distinguishing honor, placing third out of 46 area bands in radio station KZOK’s “School of Rock” contest.

The contest invited high-school bands to record pep-band versions of classic rock songs, and Kentridge added its medley of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to the mix. Narrowed down by area band directors and scrutinized by selected judges, Kentridge’s rendition came in third, earning the band $2,000 worth of Ludwig drums. The winners were announced on the radio, and the recordings were played.

“We had it on in the band room when they announced it,” Baldock said. “There was a little bit of disappointment that we didn’t win, but we were very excited. We were proud of our work.”

Baldock said though they got more radio airtime, the attention shouldn’t just be on the band. The entire music department can deem this year a success, he and the other music directors agreed.

“We think we have some very talented kids here, and we’re very fortunate to have such a great program,” Giles said.

Contact Daniel Mooney at 253-437-6012 or


Photo courtesy Darcy Allen

More than 200 students of Kentridge High School bands, choirs and orchestra traveled to Anaheim, Calif. in late March, winning top honors at the Disneyland-based Heritage Music Festival. From left, directors Dave Couch, Dave Baldock and Anthony Giles can be seen lying in front of the group.

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