Talented Student Musicians Will Perform in NAfME’s All-National Honor Ensembles at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center


The 2010 All-National Honor Ensembles Group Gathered Outside the Kennedy Center

Throughout the United States, exemplary high school musicians are packing up their trombones, flutes, and violins, and preparing their voices for a trip to Washington, DC. They will perform in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) 2012 All-National Honor Ensembles concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on June 24.

The 295 young musicians met the eligibility requirements of NAfME state-affiliated and division associations, and submitted audio auditions for a juried competition. All-National students will travel from across the United States, from Alaska to Virginia, to Washington to New Jersey and Wyoming.

In Washington, Honor Ensembles students will rehearse with four nationally–recognized conductors. The students were required to memorize and rehearse their concert music ahead of the trip.

In addition to the rehearsals and the concert, the students will visit the U. S. Capitol, take a nighttime tour of national monuments, and attend a Saturday night concert by “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band in Baltimore, Maryland as part of NAfME’s Music Education Week.

The concert conductors are:

  • Concert Band: Daniel Bukvich, professor of percussion and theory and director of jazz choir at the Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho.
  • Orchestra: David Becker, director of orchestral studies and conductor of the Symphony and Opera Orchestras at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin.
  • Choir: Sandra Snow is associate professor of music education and choral Conducting at Michigan State University.
  •  Jazz Band: Terrell Stafford is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The annual Ensembles Concert showcases talented student musicians, and the work of their dedicated music teachers. The music educators, most of whom are NAfME members, are understandably proud of their students’ musical achievements. Several music teachers discussed their students as well community support for their music programs.

Washington Student Takes His Talents into the Community

Like many students, Sam Bishoff, a senior from Bainbridge, Washington, started band in fifth grade, but the rising senior will continue his music career into college, said his teacher, Lillian S. Gregorio Garcia, director of bands at Bainbridge High School. He will play tenor saxophone in the All-National Concert Band

“He’ll be a senior this coming school year. Sam has participated in the Bainbridge High School Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Marching and Pep Band, and our Jazz Band.  In our top concert group, the Wind Symphony, Sam is 2nd chair B-flat Clarinet,” Garcia said.

She added, “His greatest desire in music is in jazz.  He’s an accomplished and award- winning soloist having already played in private venues and events.  He has participated in our State Solo/Ensemble competition since his freshman year playing both as a soloist and in small ensembles receiving both excellent and superior ratings.   At this time, Sam does plan to pursue a music major degree but has not decided on which discipline.”

New York Teacher Discusses Her “Hard-Working” Students

Adrianna Donovan, a string teacher at W.T. Clarke High School in Westbury, New York, has two violinists, Daniel Wang and Jordi Lotito, who will perform in the All-National Orchestra.

She said, “Daniel, a junior, is a dedicated, hardworking, sensitive musician who always looks to better himself.  He has played in our string orchestra, chamber ensemble, and has been a consistent member of all-state groups, and is vice president of our Tri-M ®Music Honor Society.”

NAfME‘s Tri-M program aims to inspire music participation, create enthusiasm for scholarship, stimulate a desire for service, and promote leadership in the music students of secondary schools.

Jordi, also a junior at W.T. Clarke High School, “is a wonderful and thoughtful musician and one of the most talented musicians I’ve had the chance to work with, and has played in our string orchestra, chamber orchestra, full orchestra, pit orchestra, and quartet settings and also belongs to the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Donovan said.

Both students play in the Emerald String Quartet at Clarke High School and have played in the Young Ensembles Program sponsored by the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center.

Donovan said she has a strong string program at her high school that has “more than doubled over the past seven years.  The dedication and support of the students, parents, community and administration allows the program to flourish on a consistent basis.”

Alaska Students are Accustomed to Excellence

Renee C. Henderson, the choir director at Kenai (Alaska) Central High School and music festival coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, has several choral students who were selected for the NAfME All-National Mixed Choir. She said her students are accustomed to being challenged by nationally recognized music conductors in honor choirs there.

“I work very hard to try to give students the maximum exposure to the best clinicians in the country, as much as possible.   I try personally to hire the same level of clinicians for our Borough Honor Choir and Borough Mass Choir,” Henderson said.

She, too, is grateful for broad community support. In the past her choirs have traveled to Portugal and elsewhere in Europe. “I would say I am more than blessed with community support. It’s terrific.”

Local Media Coverage

Many of the Honors students and their teachers were interviewed by their local media as they prepared for the trip to Washington.

  •  Flute player Kathryn Downs of Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, told The Patriot News, “Music is so satisfying,” adding that listening to chord progressions is “like reading a good book.”  She will perform in the NAfME All-National Concert Band. Cedar Cliff Band Director Tom Davidson said Downs “values the slow and steady progress that is accomplished through a consistently strong work ethic.”
  •  When choral student Savannah Kissel of Ashland, Nebraska, heads to Washington this week it will be her first time on an airplane. She will sing in the All-National Mixed Choir. She told the Omaha World Herald she was “super excited and surprised I was picked, especially because it is a national choir.” Her teacher is  Amy Krance-Wendt, the choral music director at Ashland-Green High School.  Krance-Wendt said Kissel is vocally strong and sings with a clear tone.  Of her teacher, Kissel said she “helped me expand my vocal range. She pushed me a lot, which was good.”
  •   Kelli Hess of Boyertown (Pennsylvania) High School will play tenor sax in the All-National Jazz Band.  She told The Mercury in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, that “I was shocked when I got the news. I didn’t think I’d make it.” Glen A. Brumback, Boyertown director of bands, encouraged her to try out. She performs in marching band, concert band, the orchestra, show choir and concert choir, as well as in the Boyertown Jazz Band. Even with a full schedule, she has a 4.1 GPA. “Music is such an important part of my life. I would tell anyone interested in music to go for your dream. I feel like the sky is the limit. Anything can happen.”

Music Education Week Events

The NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles Concert is at 4 PM on Sunday, June 24, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Tickets are $30. Find additional information about the concert or purchase tickets. 

While the 2012 All-National Honor Ensembles concert takes place in Washington, DC, most other events during NAfME’s Music Education Week will be in Baltimore, Maryland at the Marriott Inner Harbor and the Baltimore Convention Center.

Other Music Education Week Events, which will draw music educators from thoughout the United States, include:

  • “The President’s Own” Marine Band Concert, 8 PM, June 23, Baltimore Convention Center
  • The NAfME Young Composers Concert on the Millennium Stage, 6 PM at the Kennedy Center on June 24
  • Nine professional development academies for in-depth study of subjects including guitar, special learners, music program leaders and popular music, June 22–25.
  • Business meetings of NAFME’s national, division and state leaders, June 24–25
  • The National Symposium on Music Assessment, June 24–25.

Additional information on Music Education Week

Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, June 19, 2012. © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)