May 13, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Oregon State Universitys LaSells Stewart Center features a spacious performance stage.

You can feel like a postage stamp when you are performing on it, La Grande High School band director Jim Howell said.

The 28 members of the LHS Band have reason to feel like giants after a performance at the center during the Oregon School Activities Association State Band Championships.

The band turned in a performance its members will treasure like a rare stamp to win the Class 3A title late last week.

The championship stunned some of the bands members.

We were shocked, we screamed loudly, said LHS Band member Erin Weems.

LHS finished with 300 points, 14 more than runner-up Astoria.

The final team standings for the top five finishers were announced in reverse order and La Grande was announced last. After Astoria was announced as the second-place finisher some LHS Band members were shaken.

A lot of them were disappointed. They didnt think we had placed, Howell said.

Their despair turned into jubilation moments later as La Grande was announced the champion.

There was a big hesitation before the screaming started, said LHS Band member Duncan Kevan.

All bands were evaluated on how well they performed a series of songs they had selected and on sight reading. The band performed:


O Jesu Blest, from the St. Matthew Passion

Rollo Takes a Walk

Chant and Jubilo

Buglers Holiday

Judges gave LHS the highest marks of any band. Judges praised the band for things such as its finesse and sensitivity.

The sight reading phase followed the performance of the five songs the band had to perform music its members had not seen before. They were given sheet music and had to perform minutes later.

LHS received the highest score for sight reading.

Howell knew that his students could do well in the sight reading phase.

I was not stressed about it. This group reads music well, Howell said.

Even if La Grande had not placed, Howell would have left Corvallis feeling good about his band.

We had such a joyful performance ... . My goal was to perform well and we did. I was satisfied, Howell said.

LHSs band director said that the LaSells Stewart Center is an excellent place to perform despite its large stage.

The acoustics are beautiful, Howell said.

The state 3A band championship is the second major music title La Grande High School has won this month.

On May 4 the LHS A Capella Choir won the class 3A title at the OSAA Choir Championships, also conducted at the LaSells Stewart Center.