For the past two years, the annual “Battle of the Bands” competition has pitted seasoned champ Charlotte Amalie High School and up-and-coming Ivanna Eudora Kean against each other, with thousands of residents coming out for a chance to witness the ultimate face-off between the two long time rivals.
This year, the competition has been scheduled for 4 p.m. on March 31, and even though the schools have not officially announced it, tickets are already flying off the shelves. With the UVI Sports and Fitness Center exceeding capacity last year at more than 3,000 people, the schools were limited this year to printing 2,800 tickets for what has now become one of the biggest events in the district.
The brainchild of Kean High’s Band Director Dionne Donadelle, the competition is meant to not only show off the talent of each powerhouse band but to 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 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 drum line.
CAHS’ Marching Hawks has picked up the “Battle of the Bands” title for the past two years and has been practicing since January on perfecting every aspect of its show. The band plans offer its fans more of what they have come to expect: flawless attention to detail, traditionally great sound, and, of course, a selection from Band Director Georgia Francis’ beloved Earth, Wind and Fire.
But Kean has plans for an upset, and while the band is still building, even Francis has credited them with some “impressive” new moves. Kean’s Dynamite Rays have been a more visible presence in the community over the past year, performing at a number of public events and parades that give them every opportunity to practice and hone their skills. Describing herself as a modernist, Donadelle says she tries to offer more of the creativity and sound found at college level band shows.
This year’s battle will be hosted by Rock City and will feature an accomplished panel of judges from Clark and Norfolk State Universities. Both marching bands will also join together for a tribute to the late Whitney Houston, according to organizers.
Tickets to the event are being sold in advance at both schools and are: $15 for adults, $10 for students 13-18 years old and $7 for children under 12.