Playing Our Way to Nationals

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 - By: Hannah R, Mackenzie ‘18; Photo by Robbie K, Whittall '19

If you had walked into the Port Alberni Pizza Factory on the evening of Wednesday, April 12th, you would have found it filled to bursting with Brentwood music students, dining on their way back from the Vancouver Island Concert Band Festival at the Alberni District Secondary School.

As Mrs. Widenmaier said last week in assembly, April and May is the music program’s “competitive season”. Packed with various performance opportunities and music festivals, spring is the time for bands, orchestras, and choirs to showcase their talent and hard work. At most music festivals, feedback is given by adjudicators, who work with each group after it performs and/or provide written or recorded comments. Due to the small volume of school strings groups, which are often lumped together with concert bands, the adjudicators are rarely strings players. Nevertheless, it always proves valuable and educational to experience a different interpretation of the music and style of conducting from an excellent musician.

Although the String Ensemble of ten students played again at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival on April 26th and will perform at the Whistler Cantando Festival in May, we felt the heat a little bit at the VICBF because it gave us our only chance to qualify for musical nationals.

This festival season, our carefully chosen repertoire consists of three contrasting pieces: Movement 1 of the Brandenburg Concerto – quintessentially classical – by Johann Sebastian Bach; the well-known American folk song Shenandoah; and a lively Irish dance tune, Julia Delaney’s Reel. As pieces and arrangements go, these three have been fun, while challenging, to learn and a pleasure to perform.

Although nerves, a new setting, and unfamiliar acoustics rendered the overall performance slightly less than perfect, the adjudicators must have been impressed: the String Ensemble was nominated, for the second year in a row, to attend the national music festival: MusicFest Canada. Unfortunately, we are not able to take advantage of our previous nomination and attend this year, but hope to participate in May, 2018.

Congratulations to all my fellow String Ensemble members on this achievement, and thank you to our conductor, Mr. Clausen!

Hannah R, Mackenzie ‘18

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