Musicians of tomorrow

All-County musicians to perform at Chautauqua Lake Central?School

MAYVILLE — February has long been a busy month for the music educators of Chautauqua County. Two county-wide events take place during this blustery month: CCMTA Solo Festival, and the CCMTA Winter All-County Festival. Both are sponsored by the Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association, and rely for their success on not only the organization of the music educators from the 18 schools districts in Chautauqua County, but also the dedication, hard work and talent of thousands of school aged music students throughout this corner of the state.

The Chautauqua Lake Central School Auditorium will be the site of the 2018 Winter All-County Festival and Concert. Taking place this Saturday, at 5 p.m., this event features the county’s best student musicians from the 18 school districts located in Chautauqua County, in one of several music ensembles. Featured in this festival are the Elementary Band, Junior Orchestra, Senior Orchestra, Brass Ensemble, Vocal Jazz Chorus and All-County Jazz Ensemble.

This festival is sponsored in part by a grant received from the Reg and Betty Lenna Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The Instructional Media Center at Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattauragus BOCES facilitates access and housing for portions of the sheet music used in this concert.

Tickets will be available at the door, $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students, and can be purchased at any time through

The first group on the concert program will be the All-County Elementary Band. Directing this ensemble will be Percussionist Matthew Nordhausen. Nordhausen performs regularly as a freelance percussionist and conductor for area festivals, musicals, plays and shows, with groups such as Spencerport Port of Call Players, Cobblestone Community Players, Batavia Rotary, Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association All-County Percussion Ensemble (2007), Genesee Valley School Music Association All-County Elementary Band, and Westside Theatre Productions. He has also performed with the Roberts Wesleyan College Community Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Paul Shewan. He lives in Rochester with his wife and daughter.

Two ensembles have returned to the county stage this year for the first time since 1994: the Junior and Senior Orchestras. Steven Fayette will conduct the Junior Orchestra. Fayette began his musical life as an orchestral bassist. After 30 years, he retired in 2015 from Shoreham-Wading River School District on Long Island, spending his entire teaching career teaching every level of string student.

The Senior Orchestra will follow the baton of Richard Webb, assistant professor of Music Education (strings) at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He has also taught graduate courses for the online programs at the University of Florida and Boston University, and string pedagogy at DePaul University in Chicago. Prior to his work in academia, he was an orchestra teacher in the state of Ohio for 13 years.

Mark Lancaster Lusk will conduct the All-County Brass Ensemble. Lusk is a professor of trombone at the Penn State faculty since 1986. Prior to his appointment, he enjoyed a varied career with such diverse groups as the Woody Herman Band, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players. He continues to have an active playing career as a soloist, clinician and freelance musician. Lusk has performed on Broadway in many shows, and has toured Chile and Argentina as an artist/clinician. He holds degrees from The Eastman School of Music and a performance certificate from Northwestern University. Lusk is an artist/clinician for S.E. Shires Trombones, and is published by Lyceum Press.

Jose (Peppie) Calvar will lead the All-County Vocal Jazz Ensemble. An assistant professor and assistant director at Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University, Calvar’s duties include directing the Hendricks Chapel Choir and teaching choral literature, conducting and music theory. Annual performances of Holidays at Hendrick are broadcast on WCNY and its radio and television affiliates throughout the region.

Calvar has worked most recently at Music Educators Associations in New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina and at high schools, colleges, churches and civic organizations nationwide. He has performed as a percussionist before the American Bandmasters Association, as a member of Central Winds and as a soloist for the Charlotte Symphony. He has collaborated in jazz recordings as a vocalist, percussionist and pianist.

The last group of the concert will be the All-County Instrumental Jazz Ensemble, featuring several of the best high school student jazz musicians in Chautauqua County, and directed by saxophonist/composer/arranger Mike Titlebaum, director of jazz studies at Ithaca College, where he directs the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble, coaches combos, teaches jazz saxophone and courses in jazz standards, arranging, repertoire and pedagogy. He is the founding member of the Ithaca Jazz Quartet and the creator of the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble Composition contest. He also teaches and coordinates the jazz area in the IC Summer Music Academy.

He was born and raised in Rochester, where he earned his BM and MM in saxophone performance from the Eastman School of Music, as well as the coveted Performer’s Certificate in Saxophone.

The organization for this festival begins nearly 10 months prior to the program. Each student is selected first by their school’s music teacher. That list is pared down by the CCMTA chair people, who then select the students (in some cases by audition, teacher recommendation or through a score received by playing a solo for a New York state-certified music adjudicator) who make the final roster for each group.

Other duties of each chairperson include finding the guest conductor to lead the group, compiling and disseminating music to each of the students selected for the ensemble, and organizing any rehearsals prior to the day of the festival. The chairperson’s final act is to introduce the guest conductor. It then becomes the students’ moment to shine, showcasing their hard work and talent to an enthusiastic audience of over 500.

The concert itself lasts less than two hours, but the time and preparation that go into the festival far exceed that moment in time on stage. Students begin rehearsing their music with their teacher as soon as they receive it in early December from their chairperson. They may then be required to attend one or two additional rehearsals throughout the months of January and February.

On the day of the concert, these dedicated music students begin arriving at the school between 8 and 8:30 a.m., for a prompt 9 a.m. rehearsal start. The day continues with rehearsals, lunch and a few small breaks in between, until 4:30 p.m. when the last students dress for the 5 p.m. concert start time.

In addition to the Winter All-County Festival, CCMTA provides scholarships to area music students to aid the student in continuing music education; Sponsors a Solo Evaluation Festival, where students prepare and play for a New York state-certified music adjudicator who in turn provides the student with valuable comments and tips on how to improve his or her musicianship; and hosts a Spring All-County Music Festival each year featuring the elementary, junior and senior choruses, and the junior and senior All-County bands, held at the Chautauqua Amphitheater on Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm.

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