About the Gala:
The New Jersey State Band Gala Concert is an annual educational activity that serves more than 750 instrumental music students from New Jersey’s public high schools in a day-long series of performances.
The Gala Concert is the culmination of a larger, statewide educational program, the New Jersey State Band Festival, which encourages the participation of every high school band in the state. The twelve high school bands that perform in the Gala Concert are chosen through a series of three competitive preliminary rounds in three regions of the state: north, central and south. Each year, more than 150 high school bands from all over New Jersey participate in the preliminary rounds of the New Jersey Band Festival. Because of the high degree of preparation and practice that each band and its individuals members devote to this activity, the New Jersey Band Festival fosters personal growth and achievement for nearly 10,000 music students in New Jersey each year.
In years past, a very small proportion of New Jersey music ensembles were capable of more than a moderate level of achievement when compared to ensembles from other parts of the country. However, since the inauguration of the state-wide festival, the level has improved dramatically. Currently, ensembles from New Jersey travel to competitions throughout the United States and often to Europe and return with outstanding success. Such success can be directly attributable to the statewide band festival and the culminating Concert Gala. The Gala has become the foremost musical goal of bands in the State of New Jersey.
Now in its 34th season, the New Jersey State Band Festival was established in 1983 by Dr. William H. Silvester, then Director of Bands at The College of New Jersey, who served as the festival’s administrator for 15 years. In 1998, after fifteen years of operation, the festival grew too large to run at TCNJ, and so a new, expanded organization was developed, under the direction of Darryl J. Bott.
With the establishment of the New Jersey Band Association in 2006, it was decided that the New Jersey State Band Gala Concerts would take place under the sponsorship of the newly-formed association. This year, the administration of the Gala is once gain under the direction of Darryl J. Bott, Deputy Director of the Department of Music and Associate Director of Bands.
Since the inception of the Gala, the number of music students staying within the state to study music on the college level has been remarkable. The road to the Gala has been a significant incentive for high school-age students to become involved in music and many of them see the benefits of staying in-state to study. In turn, the music education graduates of our state colleges are entering the field with higher goals and expectations, and are helping to continue to raise the level of music in New Jersey’s schools.