"Tonight is the night all the good musicians in the county can get together to show Washington County our talent," said Beth Zimmerman, a flutist from North High. That did not stop some of the musicians from feeling some butterflies.
"Excited and nervous," South High clarinetist Sonali Singh said when asked how she felt. Fellow South High clarinetist Kaitlyn Pettit said the concert is one of the biggest gigs of the year.
"It's definitely one of the best experiences I can imagine because there's so much uniting the people," said Meagan Graff, a piccolo player from North High. In that regard the sports analogy breaks down, since the players are all working together not against each other.
"Even though we're from several schools, all of us are still friends," said Graff.
"As opposed to sports, where everything is about winning," added Zimmerman.
Smithsburg trombonist Erin Kittel, who did three solos with the All County Senior Jazz Band, said the musicians auditioned in January, playing a prepared piece, going through the scales and doing an improvisational piece. That was followed by a pair of after-school practices, a full day together and a couple of hours of practice before the concert, she said.
Because the concert was postponed a week because of foul weather, that full day of practice had come 10 days earlier, Kittel said.
Despite that, the 17-member jazz band put out a tight sound, gliding through Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" under the baton of the ensemble's guest conductor, Matt Gallagher.
"It was definitely challenging, but it was also fun to play different styles of music and play with the best musicians in the county," said trumpeter David Kurz of Smithsburg High.
In a few years, members of the All County Middle School Concert Band will be auditioning for the All County Senior High School Band. Saturday, they showed off their chops playing a medley of movie themes by composer John Williams, among other pieces.
Dave and Angie Grove were beaming after the middle school performance. Their son, Andrew, played tuba, representing Western Heights Middle School.
Asked why he chose the tuba, Andrew replied that "I have braces and my band director asked me to switch" from the trumpet.
"And here I thought it was because he liked the tuba," his father joked.