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Northwood Marching Chargers’ Jazz Celebration triumphs at Pinecrest

Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - The 2013 Northwood High School Marching Chargers took the field for their first competition on Saturday, September 28, at the 6th Annual Pinecrest Band Fest and the opening strains of the Dixieland Quartet introduced the Louis Armstrong classic, Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? Their rousing presentation of Way Down Yonder, which also included the standards Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Basin Street Blues, celebrated the birthplace of jazz and took top honors of the evening—with 3A awards for 2nd place colorguard, 1st place percussion, 1st place drum major, 1st place music, 1st place marching and 1st place overall 3A band.

They received 1 of only 3 Superior ratings given that day. Their scores even surpassed all 4A bands (including the 120-member Union Pines band, the 130-member Jack Britt band and the 180-member Cary High School band). As the highest scoring band of the day, they were named Grand Champions.

Brad Pearson arranged this year’s program, as he has for the past six years and Austin Greene created the drill. The Dixieland quartet features Kelsey O’Daniel (clarinet), Tommy Lorbacher (trumpet), Eli Emerick (trombone) and Wyatt Kellam (tuba). Eugene Cottrell is in his 15th year as director of the Northwood High School instrumental music program. Assisting are Zach Ferguson (Horn Line), Amy Savage, Percussion instructor and Allen Wiley, Colorguard instructor.


The following Monday afternoon, the 88 Marching Chargers were back on the practice field at Northwood, working to improve precision, refine tempos and dynamics, and fine-tune the drill for upcoming competitions. With more than 30 new members, there is still much work ahead to polish the 8-minute program if they expect to achieve the coveted All-Superior label this year.

Several seniors took a few minutes during a break to talk about the competition and their newest colleagues. Allory Bors is in her third year as Northwood’s Drum Major. Cameron Terrell plays Baritone Sax and Chelsea Korynta plays Mellophone. Jaqi Akridge, in the pit on vibes, serves as one of the percussion captains and Kelsey O’Daniel, horn captain, is a featured soloist on clarinet. Everybody is excited about the championship, especially with such a large number of first-year band members. With so many members, Cameron and Kelsey talk about the bigger sound that gives the band and the increased stage presence on the field. “But it also just means more stuff—more equipment, and that requires more organization.” Allory adds, “The freshmen have had a really great attitude this year. They’ve been willing to work hard, try new things and perservere.” Jaqi agrees, pointing out that quite a few of her percussionists are new to their instruments this fall. And of the two, the drill is probably more challenging for them than the music. Allory says, “You can practice your music at home, and they have experience with that, but the drill is a brand new thing and it’s hard to learn alone. You have to do a lot of it on the field with everybody else.” Before heading back out on the field, Chelsea says the fact that the band continues to get bigger and more popular every year just shows you, “The arts are more important than ever here at Northwood.”

“I told the students that I am most proud of their effort and work during the week or so leading up to the competition. That level of performance doesn’t just happen on the step off at the competition. It happens in the tireless hours of rehearsal with constant focus on the fundamentals of marching and playing.” Says Eugene Cottrell, director of bands.


Visit to see the Northwood High School Grand Championship performance. Then grab your Mardi Gras beads and make plans to attend a future competition, when Northwood travels to North Gaston on October 12, Western Alamance on October 19, Union Pines on October 26, and the Brick Capital Classic at Lee Senior High on November 2.

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Northwood Marching Chargers’ Jazz Celebration triumphs at Pinecrest
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