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PENNS MANOR: Band students travel to District Music Festival

by CLAIRE KIRSCH and AIMEE KIRSCH, Gazette Student News Reporters on February 28, 2014 10:40 AM

KENWOOD — This year’s PMEA District 3 Band Festival was held from Feb. 6-8 at Punxsutawney Area High School, hosted by both Punxsutawney and Saltsburg.

Students from all over Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 3 traveled for this festival to prepare music for the two concerts that were held. The students from Penns Manor were Morgan Johnston, on bassoon; Shelly Goehring, on bass clarinet; Brad Remaley, on tuba; Gabby Goril, on French horn; and Claire Kirsch, on trumpet.

The festival was originally scheduled to start on Feb. 5, but because of weather conditions and school cancellations, the festival was postponed. Upon arrival the morning of Feb. 6, students were greeted by Punxsutawney band director Kurt Cessna. Students from the 31 schools were then sent to lunch.

After lunch, the students rehearsed on stage with guest conductor Dr. Jason Worzbyt, of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Worzbyt is the associate professor of bassoon and conductor of the Concert Band at IUP. Students had a quick break and then at 3:15 p.m. auditions were held for chair placements. After chair placements were completed, the students advancing to Regional Band were announced. Shelly Goehring will be advancing to Regionals on bass clarinet.

After a long day of rehearsal, students were sent home to their host families for the evening. After only a few hours of sleep, the students arrived early Friday morning for more practice.

Even with the weather delay, the students still had time for the special treat prepared by the host director, Cessna. The students met the one and only Punxsutawney Phil. Two members of the Inner Circle brought the famous groundhog to the school and students had the opportunity to take pictures, ask questions and learn all about the history of Groundhog Day. Soon it was time to go back to rehearsal.

Because of the weather delay, the concert scheduled for Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. was canceled to allow more rehearsal time for the Saturday performance. While certainly an exciting day for the students, they were more than excited to get some sleep that night, after 12 hours of practice.

The concert started at 1 p.m. on Feb. 8, with the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” arranged by Jay Dawson, a well-known arranger/composer, and conducted by Cessna.

Next, as is tradition in all PMEA festivals, “Salute to PMEA,” written by A.D. Davenport, was played, conducted by co-host director Mary Jo Fadden, of Saltsburg. The concert continued with the march from “Music for a Festival: Movement No. 6,” written by Gordon Jacob; “Shenandoah,” a well-known Frank Ticheli piece; followed by “Chorale and Toccata,” written by Jack Stamp, a colleague of Worzbyt at IUP. The band continued the program with “Shepherd’s Hey, English Morris Dance,” written by Percy Grainger; “Symphonic Dance No. 3 Fiesta” by Clifton Williams; and “Rush,” by Samuel R. Hazo, which closed out the show.

When the music ended, Worzbyt thanked the students for all their hard work, and remarked how wonderful a show the students pulled off in what was considered to be one day of rehearsals. The students from all 31 schools did a wonderful job, and showed how important music is to the students of PMEA’s District 3.

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