November 22, 2017

Wellesley sends record numbers to Senior District Festival

Matthew Hornung ’16

Staff Writer

On November 25, students here at the high school had the opportunity to play in the Massachusetts Music Educators’ Association (MMEA) Eastern District Senior Festival.  Held at Boston Latin High School (BLHS), the festival consisted of a band, orchestra, chorus, and jazz band, each made up of the top high school musicians in the Eastern District’s geographical section of Massachusetts.

Students auditioned for the festival in November, when they traveled to Milton High School to perform for judges.  The work for many of them started far earlier than that, with work on audition solos beginning as early as June.

“Auditioning was definitely the hardest part of the process,” said Sabrina Chen ’17 (clarinet), who started work on her audition solo over the summer.  In each audition, students were required to prepare a district-prescribed solo, play two major scales and a chromatic scale, and sight-read a selection shown to them in the audition.

Students were notified in early December if they received placement in one of the four district ensembles.  Students were seated in chairs according to their audition results in the Eastern Senior District (EDS) Band, Orchestra, Chorus, and Jazz Band.

Accepted students spent the entire day on Friday, November 10 at BLHS, where they rehearsed with their ensembles for a total of approximately seven hours in preparation for a performance on Saturday afternoon.  The following day, parents and the public were invited to attend the culminating performance of the students’ work at the festival.  Over two and a half hours of performance, the different groups played a variety of notable selections, ranging from jazz guitarist Freddie Green’s “Corner Pocket” to an orchestral arrangement of Ravel’s “Alborado del Gracioso”.

According to WHS Director of Bands Steve Scott, this year was a record high for Wellesley participation in the festival. “We’re extremely proud of the unprecedented number of [Wellesley] high school students accepted to districts this year,” said Scott. “We really value the experience that districts offers our students.”

Out of the almost 80 WHS students that auditioned in November, 40 students were accepted to the festival.  Emily Buff ’15 (trumpet), Sabrina Chen ’17 (clarinet), Quinn Collins ’14 (clarinet), Angie Diana ’15 (trombone), Jack Griffin ’14 (string bass), Matthew Hornung ’16 (alto saxophone), Haruki Moriguchi ’15 (timpani), Jeffrey Pinsker-Smith ’17 (French horn), Matthew Preston ’16 (snare drum), Fiona Qu ’15 (bassoon), Brian Rappaport ’14 (flute), Ben Scammell ’14 (trumpet), Harrison Shockley ‘’15 (trombone), Conder Shou ’15 (tenor saxophone), Yutong Yang ’14 (clarinet), Timmy Yee ’16 (bass clarinet), and Briana Zhuang ’16 (flute) were accepted into the EDS Concert Band.  Allison Kannam ’14 (alto), Elizabeth Kennedy ’14 (soprano), Hannah Kwawu ’14 (alto), Zoe Lloyd ’15 (soprano), Annick Mallette ’14 (alto), Carl Richardson ’15 (tenor), Marlin Rooks ’15 (tenor), Chris Scammell ’14 (baritone), James Scott ’14 (baritone), and Mark Sibold ’15 (tenor) made the EDS Chorus, while Kenyon Alexander ’14 (violin), Nick Blenko ’15 (French horn), Andrew Chien ’16 (viola), Shannon Duffy ’16 (oboe), Jamie Kweon ’17 (violin), Willie Meng ’16 (clarinet), Elissa Moy ’17 (violin), Noor Pirani ’15 (viola), Brian Rolincik ’14 (trombone), Mara Roth ’15 (oboe), Katie Scholl ’15 (flute), and Ian Zhang ’14 (snare drum) played with the EDS Orchestra.  Tim Maines ’14 (trombone) was the only WHS student accepted to the EDS Jazz Band.

Many of the students who participated in the festival process valued the experience as an important one.  “Playing difficult music and having such a short time to actually rehearse it is a good experience to have when you’re learning about music,” said Chen.

Students who placed first part on their instrument in the Eastern District Senior Festival also receive the opportunity to audition for the MMEA All-State Festival.  They will travel to Shrewsbury High School on January 25 to perform for MMEA judges for their second time this year.  WHS wishes them the best of luck!

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