SILVER CREEK- This past Saturday, Silver Creek Central School played host to Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association's Winter All-County Music Festival. Despite the snow in the air, family and community members came out in large numbers to enjoy an evening of music performed by Chautauqua County's premier student musicians.
The acts were as varied as they were superb. Opening the concert was the 2012 All-County Elementary Band, consisting of nearly 100 fifth and sixth graders. Together with guest conductor Mrs. Nicole Regan, they performed "Jump Street Boogie," "Valley Forge March," "Sakura," and "Nocturnal Dances."
The Women's Chorus, led by Dr. Kathleen Shannon, followed the Elementary Band. This all-female group of more than 50 high school students performed "Rise Up Singing," Te Quiero," "Wings," and finished their performance with "Sacramento Sis-Joe," based on an American folk song. Working with a guest conductor exposes the students to different rehearsal strategies, warm up techniques and also reinforces concepts already taught to them by their own music teachers. "The girls worked hard all day Saturday with details and techniques that are not always part of the typical school chorus," explained Ms. Sally Carr, the Women's Chorus chairperson and music teacher at Sherman Central School.
Nicole Regan directing the Elementary Band in a morning rehearsal in the gym.
Mrs. Pauline Emilson, a retired Westfield music educator, led this year's Brass Ensemble, who performed after a short stage switch. Their set consisted of brass arrangements of "Australian Up-Country Tune," "When I Can Read My Title Clear," and the ever-popular "Shenandoah." Their final number was a Baroque piece entitled "Sonata" from Die Bankelsangerlieder.
"The Brass Ensemble concept is something that the students do not get enough experience performing at their own schools," remarked Brian Hornbuckle, the band director at Brocton Central School and chairperson for this group, "so as a county organization we are fortunate enough to have that ability to put together an ensemble like this for these students."
The festival ended with performances by the All-County Vocal Jazz ensemble, directed by Jan Rhody of Olean, and very competitive Instrumental Jazz Ensemble, with Michael Szczublewski at the helm. The Vocal Jazz group sang "Blue Skies," "Mas Que Nada," "You Are So Beautiful" (made famous by Joe Cocker), and Duke Ellington's "Hit Me with a Hot Note." The Jazz Ensemble rounded out the evening with "Hexagon Mat Dance," "Here's That Rainy Day," "Crib Chimp," "Lester Lives" and "Basie Eyes."
"[The festival] continues to grow every year and features America's classical music, Jazz" stated Wieloszynski, a Silver Creek band director who was also chairperson for the festival. "All solos were improvised," Wieloszynski remarked of both jazz groups, meaning that those students who braved the soloist microphone were responsible for the creation of the melody for the entire length of the solo section of the song. In an improvised solo, the musician is actually imagining the notes a fraction of a second before they are produced through the instrument. This kind of high level music-making is arguably the most daunting, yet most rewarding experience in Jazz music. Whether the instrument used is a saxophone, trumpet, trombone or voice (as in the case of a vocalist scatting), the outcome is authenticity at its finest.
"All groups were of extremely high quality," Wieloszynski said. All the Chautauqua County music teachers present were very pleased with the level of preparation and effort the students put into Saturday's performance.
CCMTA President Rachel Curtin was on site for the Festival day long rehearsals and culminating concert. "The Winter All-County festival is a collaboration that requires talent, creative and logistical problem solving, time, and cooperation from students, teachers, conductors, facilities managers and parents," She stated. "Our festival inspired our students to advance their creativity and also encouraged them to seek new friendships and inspiration from great players from other schools. Exceptional students, particularly those from smaller [music] programs, need the opportunity to meet and perform with exceptional musicians from other schools. The social connection and sense of affiliation with a talented county music program is an important facet of our program, and the reason students work so hard to be a part of it."
"I felt a strong sense of community and hope as I watched an elementary snare drum player count out his rests during the performance," Curtin mentioned, "because I knew that in six years, if he keeps practicing and loving music, that a snare drum part in The Battle Hymn of the Republic would be waiting for him in high school." As a former student CCMTA performer, Curtin recalled "I know that the standing ovations, melodies, and friendships are made possible by adults and students who push themselves to live a richer life through music. I am blessed and proud to say that for these reasons, the 2012 Winter All-County, chaired by Mr. Wieloszynski, was a tremendous success."
The members of CCMTA have already begun preparation for their next All-County Festival, held at the Chautauqua Institution on June 2, and will feature the All-County Elementary, Junior High and Senior High Choruses, and the Junior High and Senior High Bands.
More information about these groups and what CCMTA does can be found online at www.CCMTA.net.