DANVILLE — Music filled the Danville Area High School performing arts center on Friday as 150 student musicians practiced for a high-profile performance.
Fifty-seven students from 11 Valley school districts, as well as students from 38 other school districts, are part of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s District 8 Band Festival. The students practiced over Thursday and Friday, culminating with a performance at 1 p.m. Saturday at the high school in Danville.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the advanced musicians in our school district to make music with other advanced musicians in other school districts,” said Danville Band Director Tom Haravi. “They will be playing on a high level, be challenged and exposed to a world-class conductor and music.”
The students in this year’s annual festival auditioned for the event in November. They auditioned on Thursday for a chance to go to the regional band event at Honesdale High School in March; those who move on will be announced at Saturday’s concert. At the regional festival, students will have the opportunity to audition for the state event at the Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos in April.
About half of the ensemble will move on to regionals and then about 25 percent of the regional band will move on the state, said Haravi.
“I’m very proud,” said Haravi. “The students have worked very hard and the quality of their talent will be displayed.”
Students from local school districts include 14 from Danville Area, 11 from Selinsgrove Area, 10 from Lewisburg Area, six from Shamokin Area, four from Midd-West, three from Line Mountain and Mount Carmel, two from Warrior Run and Milton Area, and one from Shikellamy and Mifflinburg Area.
“This experience is one of a kind, there’s nothing like this anywhere else in a public school,” said Selinsgrove Area junior and flute player Asli Lawrence, 17. “You get to be with different people from all these different districts and you get to go through all this different music, which is amazing.”
Lawrence has been playing flute since the seventh grade. She listened to “The Carnival of the Animals” by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns and fell in love with the sound of the flutes at age 10.
Danville senior and flute/piccolo player Kevin Palm, 18, said he bought his first instrument off eBay in the fifth grade.
“These festivals mean a lot to me personally,” said Palm. “Before I switched to flute and piccolo, I was really not a good trumpet player. Coming here has allowed me to shine and meet people I really like to play with.”
Dr. William Stowman, the guest conductor, is a professor of trumpet and chair of the music department at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg where he teaches trumpet and directs the jazz ensemble and trumpet ensemble. He is the recipient of the Dr. Robert and Marilyn Smith Award for Excellence in Teaching at Messiah College and has also received the citation of excellence from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. Stowman also hosted in 2009 the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Harrisburg ad served as host for the National Trumpet Competition in 2014 and 2015.
“I get to do a lot of these festivals in the course of a year, but to be here with this particular group of students have been tremendous,” said Stowman. “They came really well prepared and open to making some great music.”
Stowman said the concert will be “spectacular.”
“We have covered a lot of ground in a short period of time,” said Stowman. “Not only talking about the music here but about larger concepts. It’s always fascinating to me to see how those things come to play in live performances. I think their parents will be very pleased with the work we’ve done.”