The Northwestern High School Bands have a rich history of excellence and are a valued part of the Northwestern High School educational experience. At the core of the band program are the three concert ensembles which include the 9th Grade Band, the 10th grade Concert Band, and the Symphonic Band. All of these ensembles consistently receive the highest possible ratings at state and national festivals. The Symphonic Band, which is the top ensemble, performs grade VI literature and represented our school and community at the 2000 and 2006 SCMEA Convention. The NHS Band has performed in the 1999 ”Music in London Series” at the famed Westminster Hall in London, England. The band has traveled to Hawaii three times since 2002 to perform in Pearl Harbor at the USS Missouri.
The band program also includes the award winning 160 member “Purple Regiment” Marching Band. In past years, the Purple Regiment is always a top-contender at the SCDBA State 4A/5A Marching Band Championships – including one 4A state championship in 2008 and numerous Upper-State Champion titles in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, and 2012. The marching band also participates in numerous local and state marching band competitions, parades, and community events.
The Jazz Bands at Northwestern are extracurricular ensembles and are designed to build and enhance the music education the students receive in the concert and marching ensembles. The repertoire for all ensembles consist mainly of jazz standards with improvisation at the core of all the literature and instruction. The Senior Jazz Ensemble is a traditional big band and performs grade IV-V arrangements of jazz standards with a strong emphasis on improvisation. Auditions for the ensemble are held in mid-Novemeber and the ensemble rehearses throughout the remainder of the school year. The ensemble rehearses twice a week for total of three hours a week and performs at school concerts, district events, and for the community.
Extracurricular ensembles and activities for our members include the NHS Winterguard, percussion ensemble, and numerous small chamber ensembles that perform throughout the community and at the SCBDA Solo & Ensemble Festival. In addition, the Northwestern High School Bands consistently place a large number of students in the Region Three and All-State Bands of South Carolina. The success of all of our ensembles have earned the Northwestern Bands the SCBDA “Outstanding Performance Award for the past twenty-three years. On a national level, the Northwestern High School Music Department was recognized in 2004 as a National Grammy Signature School of Excellence winner.
A large part of the success of the Northwestern Bands is the quality instruction the students receive from our middle school. These directors include: Michael Skellett (Rawlinson Road Middle School), Scot McGuire (Dutchman Creek Middle School), Myra Ambler (Saluda Trail Middle School), Paul Guzewicz (Sullivan Middle School), Jermaine Evans (Castle Heights Middle School), and Hilary Yost (St. Anne Catholic School).
None of these accomplishments would be possible without the tremendous support we receive form our parents, school and community. We are indeed fortunate to enjoy valuable support and assistance from Rock Hill Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kelly Pew, the Rock Hill School District Board of Trustees, and the Northwestern High School Principal, Mr. James Blake.