Mazama High School’s symphonic band played its way into the 4A OSAA Band State Championships – and then took top honors in May, placing second overall in the state a competitive field.
The band had been working toward that second-place trophy since Rob Izzett’s joined Mazama and Brixner Junior high schools as band director six years ago – the same year the band’s seniors were seventh-graders.
“We have a really great vibe in that band,” Izzett said. “They have fun but they have a purpose. They want to do well.”
The band has qualified to compete at state – not an easy task – for the past four years. Just 10 4A bands statewide qualify for the competition, and only the top five place. The competition was May 8 at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
“I’ve been requiring more of them,” Izzett said of the students he has directed since junior high. “They started getting their fingers around the music early on this year. More of them came better prepared by putting in their own work.”
Mazama High School Principal Steve Morosin congratulated the band members.
“Mr. Izzett and the students did a great job. I have had the opportunity to listen to 20-plus years of band concerts and this group is the best I’ve ever heard,” he said. “This is for sure, the highest award I’ve seen as a building administrator and might be the highest Mazama has ever obtained.”
There are two ways for bands to qualify for the state championships – they must win their conference event with a score of 75 or more from at least two of the three judges. Mazama won the conference this year.
A second way to qualify is to receive qualifying scores at another event and then send a recording to OSAA. OSAA sends all submitted recordings from around the state to an out-of-state judging panel. That panel determines the five wildcard slots.
Henley High School qualified for and competed at the state championships this year by earning one of those slots. They performed well, but didn’t earn top five recognition.
Before Rob Izzett took over the program at Mazama High School, there were 18 students in the band. Today, there are 75. Of those, 51 are in the upper-level symphonic band. Lauryn McCroskey directs percussion for Mazama and Henley high schools as well as Henley Middle and Brixner Junior High.
“He built this band through relationships,” McCroskey said. “He has a sense of humor. They want to perform well because of him.”
Those relationships – and sense of humor – has Izzett sporting what he calls “ginger” hair. Three years ago, he promised his students if the band placed at state, he would dye his hair any color they chose. On Monday, he arrived at Mazama sporting a head of red locks.
At state, the Viking band performed three contemporary pieces.