We congratulate the winners in the Illinois High School Association’s music competition, as announced on the association’s website.
The IHSA music competition is run as a sweepstakes, divided into a solo-and-ensemble competition on Saturday, March 7, and a large ensemble competition, which took place on Friday and Saturday, April 17–18. Performers are adjudicated at several sites throughout the state, and scores are combined centrally to determine the winners. There’s never any head-to-head competition per se.
Rankings are determined in each class, based on school enrollment, for band, orchestra, and vocal solo-and-ensemble performances, and then overall rankings are determined in each class by adding up the points earned in all the competitions in which the school participates.
Note that some schools don’t compete in every element, as many high schools in Illinois don’t have an orchestra, for example. In addition, many schools avoid competing in the large organizational competitions, especially schools in the affluent suburbs around Chicago, because directors avail their bands, orchestras, and choruses to other performance opportunities that don’t earn any points in the IHSA music sweepstakes. For example, no high schools in Naperville District 203 or Indian Prairie District 204 took part in the sweepstakes tally.
But hundreds of schools in the state do send large ensembles to the competitions in mid-April and then submit their solo-and-ensemble scores for the IHSA music sweepstakes every year. This year, Washington Community High School in Class A won the overall state title for the first time in school history, despite having no orchestra score to add to the total, beating out 76 other schools in total points earned.
“We don’t look at the sweepstakes as us opposing other schools; we look at it as an educational experience,” Jim Tallman told the Peoria Journal-Star. He’s Washington Community’s band director and fine arts chair. “Students get feedback from the judges on what they’re doing right and what they need to work on. If you do well in the competitions, winning is a byproduct of the education you’re getting.”
Mr Tallman, in recognizing the excellent performances of other schools, noted that Ottawa Township, which has won 19 straight state titles, including 10 in Class A, moved up from Washington Community’s class to Class AA for the 2014-15 school year. That helped Washington secure the title this year, he said.