By Kristina Ailara
The West Orange High School Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform at the Music for All National Festival which takes place March 9 – 11, 2017 at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. Under the direction of their teacher, Lewis Kelly, this outstanding group of 50 10th to 12th grade musicians is one of 16 featured bands from across the United States that have been given this honor.
Kelly says, “We are a featured band, of which nationally, there is really no higher accomplishment of this kind.”
To qualify for the festival, bands are required to submit a detailed application which Kelly explains includes “two recent recordings of the group, two recommendations from well-known music educators and a list of recent accomplishments.” According to Music for All, applicants are evaluated by leading music educators and the “ensembles [chosen to] perform at the Festival are recognized as being among the finest in the nation.”
As the largest national festival for high school bands, Music for All encourages “innovation, growth and excellence” by offering students and teachers a comprehensive musical experience.
Kelly says, “There will be opportunities for us to perform, watch other groups perform; we’ll be involved in workshops and the kids will also be participating in master classes for their specific instrument.”
At the festival, the wind ensemble will perform a concert before an audience that includes the festival evaluation panel. Although music selections have yet to be finalized, Kelly says the wind ensemble will perform “40 – 45 minutes of music that will best showcase our band.”
The group will then receive a private clinic with one of the festival evaluators/clinicians. Students will also participate in instrumental master classes, led by top applied faculty professional musicians. Students are required to watch other bands perform and the festival will also offer social events and an awards banquet so that participating bands can get to know each other. Music for All says it strives to create an atmosphere that “provides a place for growth, cooperative encouragement and mutual respect among music programs, students, parents boosters and administrators.”
For more than 40 years, Music for All has been one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations in support of music education and performance. Music for All is a non-profit organization that says it strives to “provide national programs that recognize and support music students’ performance and success, offer music educator training and professional development and deliver tools and resources to participants and their communities that will assist them in supporting music education by promoting awareness of music’s impact on student growth and achievement.”
This is an extraordinary opportunity for the wind ensemble.
Kelly says, the students “are excited. I also think some of them are a bit intimidated about the whole thing. It’s important for them to remember, all of the other groups participating are high school students that are in very similar situations.”
To pay for the trip, students will be using funds from the Music Boosters, the West Orange Board of Education and the students. The wind ensemble will also be fundraising. Anyone who is interested in donating to this experience should contact Rick Adelsohn, president of the Music Boosters at Rick@wohsmusic.org.