Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

A note-worthy performance

2 students selected for honors band festival
Addison Freeman
Musical merit: The selected best musicians from many schools including Freedom performed at their concert on Saturday, Dec. 9. They spent days preparing for their performance.

Throughout the school year, students enrolled in Freedom’s band class are given many chances to play and perform outside of normal concerts or marching band events. One of these occasions is the annual Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District Five Honors Band Festival. This is a competitive festival in which students from various schools around the area participate. 

This year, two students from Freedom made it into the honors band and got the chance to perform with students from other school districts. Ms. Emily Rickard, Freedom’s middle school and high school band director, guided her students through the process and provided them with the materials needed to successfully audition and prepare for the festival. 

To get into honors band, students must first go through the process of auditioning. This year, there were six Freedom band members who auditioned. The band students, accompanied by Rickard, met at the high school on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to head to Slippery Rock University where auditions were held. Every year the instrumentalists go through a blind audition, meaning they play in front of a panel of judges who make their decisions on an unbiased basis and provide feedback. 

“It can be a pretty intense process, but it’s a really good thing to learn as a musician,” Rickard said. 

All of the band directors from different schools, including Rickard, worked as judges, dividing themselves into different audition rooms for the varying groups of auditioning students.

Following the audition itself, papers were hung for students to view who made it into honors band. Freshman French horn player Audrey Mooney and junior tuba player Jesse Reinhardt were both invited back to participate in honors band. 

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to play with so many wonderful musicians. I also am very thankful for the people who helped me get there, because I wouldn’t have been able to make it all by myself,” Mooney said.

Throughout the period between auditions and the concert, students practiced and attended rehearsals from 9:00am to 3:30pm on Dec. 7-8 and from 9:00am to 11:00 am on Dec. 9. During these rehearsals, Reinhardt and Mooney were excused from school to refine their music with the rest of the honors band. 

“They get to work with other students who are performing in the top of their ensembles at their schools,” Rickard said. “It’s neat because they get to play with the best musicians from across Beaver, Lawrence, Butler and Mercer counties.”

Additionally, they worked with a guest conductor, Dr. Galen S. Karriker, who is the Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Akron. Working under his baton gave them the opportunity to work with a director who teaches on a collegiate level. 

At last, the concert was held in Miller Auditorium located at Slippery Rock University on Saturday, Dec. 9 beginning at 2:00pm. The ensemble played a total of seven pieces, beginning with the national anthem. Then, they played the “PMEA March” and continued on with other pieces titled “Celebration Fanfare” and “But Joy Comes”. Then, they played a circus march piece titled “The Flying Squadron” and a composition of four Israeli folk dances called “Rikudim.” Lastly, they concluded the performance with a piece called “76 Trombones”. 

The several days leading up to the concert were full of hard work and a lot of preparation from all of the students involved. Next year, the students and Rickard hope to see auditioning and participant numbers continue to grow as more students strive for excellence and musical opportunities. 

“Last year, we had one student participate and now this year, we have two. It’s great to see those numbers grow, and I think as students continue to work towards their own goals as musicians, we’ll see even more students participate,” Rickard said.