Awarded prize for top music program, best instrumental group
The Blair music ensembles captured first prize out of 15 schools for the best overall music program, as well as the adjudicator's award and the prize for best overall instrumental group, at the Heritage Music Festival in New York City this past weekend.
All three instrumental groups — symphonic orchestra, symphonic band and honors jazz ensemble — scored between 90 and 100 to earn a Gold rating and placed first, first and third, respectively, in their categories.
The chamber choir placed third, but the women's choir, despite having comparable scores, did not place in the top three. "They performed about as well as can be expected going to a new place with out knowing how the sound will balance," said choir director Paul Newport. "I'm really pleased with the weekend."
Besides the high quality of the students' performance, the music selections contributed to the bands' success. "We were well received by the adjudicators," said band director Dustin Doyle. "We brought good music there and the adjudicators appreciated it."
Last year, the ensembles traveled to Chicago for the Heritage Music Festival, in which both choral groups placed third. Both the choral and instrumental groups used their experience in Chicago, as well as in other festivals, to better prepare for this year's New York festival. Comments received from adjudicators at the county level festival on March 15 helped the orchestra perfect their performance. All band groups participated in a concert March 14 in the Blair auditorium to practice their music in a festival-like setting.
After the county festival, the choir switched to a new song a week before going to New York, since they were not limited by the county list of songs and could choose one that better showcased their talents than the song they had used for the county festival. The choir also had to change their focus from the county festival, in which the scores were independent of other groups, to a competition in which they were contending against other choirs. "I learned to prepare [the choirs] into a competitive mindset rather than a festival mindset," said Newport.
Because the bands and orchestra scored on the Gold level this year, they have been invited to the Festival of Gold, a special Heritage Festival exclusively for groups that received Gold scores, held next year in Boston, Mass.
Lois Bangiolo. Lois Bangiolo was born on March 14, pi day, an auspicious date as she is now in the math-science magnet. In addition to writing for Silver Chips Online she runs track and is secretary of the MBHS Key Club. More »