CHAUTAUQUA - The Chautauqua County Music Teachers' Association will sponsor its annual Spring All-County Concert in the Chautauqua Institution's Amphitheater on Saturday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m. This event features the county's best student musicians from the 20 school districts located in Chautauqua County in any one of several music ensembles. Featured in this festival are the elementary, junior high, and senior high all-county choruses, and the junior and senior high all-county bands.
Each student is selected first by their school's music teacher and from there the list is pared down by the C.C.M.T.A. chairpeople, 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 will make the final roster for each group.
This year's elementary chorus of more than 200 fifth and sixth graders will open the concert, conducted by Charles Palella. Palella has been teaching in the Hilton Central School District outside Rochester, NY for 23 years where he teaches classroom music as well as conducting two elementary choruses. He is currently the NYSSMA Winter Conference Elementary Chair and a presenter at NYSSMA conferences and clinician in Orff Schulwerk. Palella works with several community theater groups in the Rochester area and has received many awards for his work from the Theater Association of NYS.
Following the elementary chorus will be the All-County Junior High Chorus, led by Catherine S. Unell-Ludwig. Mrs. Ludwig is in her 16th year of teaching vocal music at Williamsville South high School. While under her direction the chorus has earned many awards including top honors at the Music in the Parks program in Pittsburgh and an invitation to perform at the Candlelight Processional in Disney World in 2010. Unell-Ludwig has been a Who's Who of America's teachers, a Disney Educator honoree and was voted Teacher of the Year in Spencerport for 1999.
The AllCounty Junior High Band will be conducted by Martin Allen. Allen has taught instrumental music in the Grand Island Schools for twenty-four years. Under his baton, Grand Island High School Ensembles have been recognized for their excellence at State and National Music Festivals, including performances at NYSBDA, NYSSMA, and MENC All Eastern Conventions. Allen was honored in 1999 with the American School Band Directors Association Regional and National Directors Award for Outstanding Service to the American Band Movement, and in 2004 he received the ECCMC/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Award for Excellence in Music Education.
Norman Zogaib will conduct the All County Senior High Chorus. A native of Long Island, Zogaib is currently on the music faculty at Hamburg High School in Hamburg. Under his direction, The Hamburg High School Concert Chorale has performed at the 2000 and 2008 NYSSMA Winter Conferences, three performances at Carnegie Hall, a performance at Avery Fisher Hall (with the Buffalo Philharmonic), and most recently a 2010 performance at the Eastern Division Conference of ACDA in Philadelphia.
The last performing group will be the All-County Senior High Band, directed this year by John Hendricks, III, who is presently serving as Director of Bands at West Virginia University. Prior to his appointments at WVU, Hendricks was the Assistant Director of Bands at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is presently serving as Director of Music at Wesley United Methodist Church in Morgantown.
The concert itself lasts under 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 as soon as they receive it from their Chairperson, sometime in early spring.
On the day of the concert, these dedicated student musicians begin arriving on the Institution's grounds 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 the students have dinner and dress for the 7:30 p.m. concert start time.
Since the 1960s, the concert's moving finale has been Wilhousky's arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," performed by a combination of the junior and senior high bands and choruses, and conducted this year by John Straight. Straight is a retired music educator from Fredonia Central School, where he taught choral and general music for 37 years. A native of Fredonia, Straight has devoted his professional career to the students of this area, and has happily accepted the invitation to be the guest conductor of nearly 600 performing student musicians.
On May 9 CCMTA hosted scholarship auditions at Cassadaga Valley High School. These scholarships are awarded to Chautauqua County music students for private instruction or toward college expenses, should the student choose a career path in music. The CCMTA Scholarship winners will be presented to the audience at this concert. This year's $500 College Scholarships go to Michael Hawk, a voice major, from Fredonia, and Iain Cockram, a tubist from Westfield. The winner of the Ed Turner Memorial Scholarship (given in memory of Mr. Turner, a music teacher from Southwestern Central School) is Jason Porter of Southwestern.
The $400 scholarship award winners are as follows: McKenzie Cass (voice), Frewsburg; Sarah Leon (violin), Jamestown; Shelby Maberry (voice), Southwestern; Katie Mosier (clarinet), Fredonia; Jason Porter (voice), Southwest-ern; Michaela Tramuta (saxophone), Fredonia; and Margaret Williams (violin), Washington Middle School.
In addition to the Spring All-County Festival and providing music study scholarships, C.C.M.T.A. also sponsors a solo 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 Winter All-County Music Festival each year featuring the Elementary Band, Women's Chorus, Jazz Chorus, Percussion or Brass Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble.