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Battle of the bands

Deploying every weapon in their arsenal – from a steel pan pit-percussion crew to a mini-Carnival show – the Charlotte Amalie High School’s Marching Hawks picked up their third “Battle of the Bands” title Saturday in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.

The brainchild of Kean High’s Band Director Dionne Donadelle, the annual competition is not only meant to show off the talent of each powerhouse band, but to really spark student interest in music. Proceeds raised from the event fund a $1,000 scholarship offered at each high school in honor of Karence deCosta, who died tragically in 2009 on the night of her graduation from Charlotte Amalie High School. The scholarship is offered to one graduating senior from each high school.
The competition – now in its third year -- is divided into three parts: a floor show (featuring everyone from the band to the school’s flag team and cheerleaders), a back and forth battle between the two marching bands, and finally, a face off between each school’s drumline.
CAHS’ Marching Hawks, led by Director Georgia Francis, had been practicing for the event since January and in the past few weeks, primarily focused on tightening its sound. Francis also recently said that as the competition has continued to evolve, so has her overall routine, incorporating everyone one from the school’s flag team to the cheerleaders, who appeared on the gym floor Saturday clad in gold and blue masks.
“I think with us, people have come to expect great sound,” Francis added. “That’s what sets us apart. I’ve always been a stickler for the details and that’s why the performances are able to flow as well as they do. That’s my signature – period.”
While CAHS’ performance had more V.I. flair, Kean High’s Dynamite Rays focused more on precision and technique, balancing out their music with intricate routines that criss-crossed the gym floor.
Recently describing herself as a modernist, Band Director Donadelle says she tries to offer more of the creativity and sound found at college level band shows, and that was evident Saturday as Kean dazzled with a routine that pulled the marching band, flag team and dancers together in perfect synchronicity. From their matching sunglasses to their spirited chants, the Dynamite Rays had the crowd going throughout and also earned high marks from the judges.
While generally thought of as the ultimate competition between the two rival bands, many in the audience Saturday commented that the event actually pulled the two schools – and the community – together.
“The entire event was reflective of both the depth of talent that we have in the community, and indicative of the support that we all provide to support and encourage our young people,” Gov. John deJongh Jr. said after the performances. “These types of events are good for our community and give us the satisfaction we need as we continue to support each other.”
April 2, 2012
Contact: Anthony Mills                                                                               Contact: Ananta Pancham
Public Relations Specialist                                                                     Public Relations Director                                                                                   


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