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Construction of Amphitheater moves All-County to SUNY Fredonia

May 16, 2017
Westfield Republican

Every spring since 1949 (with a notable exception of 1978), the Chautauqua Institution has come alive with sights and sounds of nearly 1000 music students from around Chautauqua County who assemble for the Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association's annual Spring All-County Concert. Due to the much-publicized renovation to Chautauqua's Amphitheater, the event on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. will be held at Steele Hall on the Campus of SUNY Fredonia. As always, the concert will feature 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, and Senior All-County choruses, and the Junior and Senior All-County bands.

Each student is selected first by their school's music teacher and from there the list is pared down by the CCMTA chair people, who 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.

Opening the concert will be the Elementary Chorus (Sandra Makuch, Sherman Central School, chair) conducted by Vernon Huff. Huff is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at The State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in elementary and secondary choral methods, choral literature, and conducts the Women's Choir and University Chorus. With 10 years of public school teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, he has taught in California, Ohio, and South Carolina. In 2007, he earned National Board certification in Choral Music, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood. Ann Park Rose will accompany the Elementary Chorus.

Performing after the Elementary Chorus will be the Junior Chorus (Lauren Scharf, Jamestown Public Schools, chair). This ensemble is comprised of over 200 7th, and 8th graders. The guest conductor will be Dennis Creighton. Creighton is a graduate of the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, where he received both his Bachelor's and Master's in Music Education. He also holds a Master's of Liberal Studies with a Literature focus as well as a Masters from Stony Brook in their Educational District Leadership program. Julie Livengood will accompany the Junior Chorus.

The Junior Band (Marc Lentsch, Jamestown Public Schools, chair) will follow the Chorus. The band will be conducted by Martin Allen, who has taught instrumental music in the Grand Island Schools for 28 years. After four years at the elementary level, Allen is in his 25th year at the high school. With Allen's direction, 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.

After the Junior Band performance the Senior Chorus (Melissa Beichner/Nicole Zenns, Cassadaga Central School, co-chairs) will entertain the audience. Professor Brent Weber will lead this group of high school singers. Weber has also conducted master classes for the Regional Choral conductors of PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) and teachers from the Northeast Songfest. Earlier in 2016 he was the featured guest conductor for PMEA Region II Chorus at Fort Lebeouf High School. He also is the founder of the educational outreach program, The Young Opera Society and was the Assistant Administrator and Conductor for YPC (Young People's Chorus) of Erie's Male and Middle School Choirs. Julianna Grabowski will accompany the Senior Chorus.

Rounding out the evening of music will be the Senior Band (Helen Ihasz, Westfield Academy and Central School, chair), under the baton of Jared Graham Chase. Chase is a professional conductor, trumpet performer, and professor of music on the faculty of Nazareth College in Rochester, NY and music director of Trinity Emmanuel Lutheran Church. He has extensive experience conducting bands, orchestras, and choirs of all ages. At Nazareth College Dr. Chase oversees the instrumental program, directs the wind symphony, teaches courses in conducting and music education, and performs in the faculty brass quintet. Before coming to Nazareth, Dr. Chase was the Director of Bands and Chair of the Department of Music at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.

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. This year the finale will be directed by guest conductor Daniel L. Bromsted, retired from the Silver Creek Central School Music Department. There he served as Elementary Choral Director, conducted three award-winning choirs and directed the annual elementary musical. He is well-known as an adjudicator of voice and choruses in New York State and enjoys guest conducting and accompanying local choruses, musicals, and at churches. Mr. Bromsted and his wife Bonnie are currently 'snowbirds,' sharing residences in Dunkirk with daughter Elizabeth, and Clermont, Florida with the hope to begin second careers as employees at Walt Disney World this fall.

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 will begin arriving on campus between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. for a prompt 9 a.m. rehearsal start. The day continues with more rehearsals, lunch, and a few small breaks in between, until the students have dinner and dress for the concert.

Generous grants from The Harold E. and Elizabeth Adams Johnson Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation assist in making this festival possible. There are several expenses involved in a concert, not the least of which is providing each of the students with multiple published scores of music from which to study and perform. These purchases total thousands of dollars. Funding from the CRCF greatly aid in these expenses. Portions of the sheet music have also been provided with support of the Instructional Media Center at Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, which facilitates access and housing for the sheet music collection.

In addition to the Spring All-County Festival and providing music study scholarships, CCMTA also sponsors a Winter All-County Music Festival each February featuring the Elementary Band, Women's Chorus, Jazz Chorus, Percussion or Brass Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble. In addition, CCMTA runs a solo festival in February, 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.

Presale tickets are now available from the Fredonia Box Office in the Williams Center, online at, and will also be available at the door one hour prior to the concert. Adult tickets are $6 cash; student and senior tickets are $4.



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