Despite lost time, District 9 Band impresses

The PMEA District 9 Band was under the direction of guest conductor Jason Noble. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

The PMEA District 9 Band was under the direction of guest conductor Jason Noble. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Winter weather interrupted the start of the PMEA District 9 Band Festival on Thursday. But there was no sacrifice to the quality of the concert band’s impressive performance on Saturday, Feb. 11.
The annual Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association band festival was scheduled to begin Thursday, Feb. 9, but school cancellations forced the start to Friday afternoon at Valley View High School.
Students from 32 school districts in Susquehanna, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties participated in the select band. On Friday afternoon, the musicians auditioned for the chance to qualify on their instruments for the Region Band Festival which will be held March 23-25 at Central Columbia High School.
The District 9 Band was under the direction of Guest Conductor Jason Noble, who currently serves as the Conductor of the Columbia University Wind Ensemble in New York City. He is a doctoral candidate in Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
During the performance Saturday afternoon, Noble praised the school directors for preparing the students for the concert. The ensemble had just over six hours rehearsal time together prior to the performance.
Following the playing of the National Anthem and Salute to PMEA, the concert featured a mixed of classic, popular band arrangements with modern works.
The performance began with John Philip Sousa’s “The Fairest of the Fair,” a more melodic and playful march than the composer’s well-known military marches.
Noble said he was surprised at the number of student performers who had never played the concert band classic, “Variations on a Korean Folk Song,” by John Barnes Chance.
The piece offers up several different takes on the Korean Folk Song, “Arirang.”
Percussionists left the stage for “Lux Aurumque,” by Eric Whitacre, a wind-instrument driven piece. Originally written as a choral composition, Whitacre offered up the wind ensemble arrangement in 2005.
Noble encouraged audience members to close their eyes while listening to the artful tapestry of music created by the instruments through whole and half notes pieced together in a unique rhythm.
Described as a “novelty” piece, the band performed “The Cave You Fear,” by Michael Markowski. Noble described the work as one being inspired by “the monsters under your bed.” Percussionists used handcrafted “super-ball” mallets to achieve the sound of a lion’s roar and other special effects in the song.
The band’s offerings culminated with a performance of the 2008 concert band work, “Undertow,” by John Mackey, a composer of contemporary classical music. The piece is written in mixed meter to create a driving rhythm.
The following students from local school districts attended the festival and are listed below by instrument. Schools are denoted as follows: Blue Ridge (BR); Elk Lake (EL); Forest City (FC); Lackwanna Trail (LT); Montrose Area (MA); Mountain View (MV); Susquehanna Community (SC); Tunkhannock Area (TA).
Bassoon: Lizzie Bennici (MA).
Flute: Cassandra Brown (LT); Grace Wood (MA).
Alto Saxophone: Phil Davidson (MA); Hannah Decker (EL); Jake Decker (BR); Matthew Zaleski (MA).
Clarinet: Danielle Dubofsky (MA); Elaine Lance (TA); Megan McVaugh (MA); Alyssa Nichols (TA); Ashley Rusinko (TA); Genna Smith (MA); Alyssa Vikara (TA).
Bass Clarinet: Alaina Jones (LT).
Tenor Saxophone: Allison Bickford (MA).
Trumpet: Don Nguyen (FC); Rhiannon Potter (SC); Naeomie Strohl (TA).
French Horn: Isabella Race (TA); Kyra Ricci (MA); Skylar Secord (BR); Georgia Smith (MA).
Trombone: Tucson Cutsogeorge (MA); Caleb Reyes (MA).
Baritone Horn: Brock Darling (TA); Hunter Mingus (TA).
Tuba: Justin Cooper (TA).
Percussion: Paige Mokychic (TA).
Timpani: Maverick Beeman (MA).

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