By Tom Tolen /

The Brighton High School bands earned top ratings at the District IV Michigan State Band and Orchestra Festival at Waterford Kettering High School earlier this month. Three out of the four band groups entered — the Concert Band, Symphony Band and Wind Ensemble - all won Superior ratings, the highest rating possible, while the fourth group — the Wind Symphony - earned an “Excellent” rating.

According to BHS Band Director Gabrielle Hoffman, the 3-judge panel gave the Brighton bands a total of 10 superiors — nine for the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band and one for the Wind Symphony.

Meanwhile, The Brighton High School bands, which have garnered quite an enviable reputation for excellence over the years, will fly to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., next month for Festival Disney. Hoffman will be taking 140 young musicians to the event, along with 39 staff members and parents. They will be leaving on April 21st and returning home on the 25th.

The bands will be marching in the big parade through Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. This will be the groups’ first trip to Disney World since 2019. Although they were originally supposed to go in 2020, the trip had to be cancelled due to COVID. The students have been doing individual fundraisers to pay for the trip. In 2019, the BHS Wind Ensemble was the only concert band among the dozen competing in Festival Disney that received a Superior rating, earning a Gold Medal and the Gold Mickey award for its performance. Another testament to the stellar reputation of the group is that the BHS Marching Band was the only Michigan band invited to perform in the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii last December. Unfortunately, due to COVID, it was cancelled.

Turning to the future, Hoffman is excited about the Brighton High School bands having just received invitations to perform at Carnegie Hall and to travel to Rome, Italy, for the Ticheli festival. The dates have not yet been announced.

The next home concert for the BHS bands is May 17th at 7 p.m. at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts where the Concert Band, Symphony Band and Wind Symphony will all perform. Then on May 19th the Window Ensemble and BHS Jazz Band will perform, also at the Performing Arts Center. For the first time, the bands will be performing a joint Window Ensemble and orchestra piece. This is the first year the fledgling Brighton Area Schools’ orchestra program — which started in 2017 with a 5th grade class and added one grade per year — has made it to the high school level with what is a freshman orchestra class.