CHAUTAUQUA - The Chautauqua County Music Teachers' Association will sponsor its annual Spring All-County Concert in the Chautauqua Institution's Amphitheater on Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
This event features 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 High and Senior High All-County Choruses and the Junior and Senior High 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 chairpeople, 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.
This year's Elementary Chorus of over 200 fifth and sixth graders will open the concert, conducted by Erin Scudder. Scudder is in her ninth year as Vocal Music Director at Amherst Middle School where she conducts three large choral ensembles, three small choral ensembles and teaches general music.
Following the Elementary chorus will be the All-County Junior High Chorus, led by Dr. D. Jason Bishop, Director of Choral and Vocal Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Accompanying the Junior High Chorus will be Dr. Sarah Kahl, who is a member of the adjunct music faculty at Mercyhurst University. She also is the accompanist for the college choirs at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, the Young People's Chorus of Erie, and the Erie Philharmonic Chorus.
The AllCounty Junior High Band will be conducted by Dr. John Coggiola. Coggiola is a Dual Associate Professor of Music Education in the College of Visual & Performing Arts and the School of Education, as well as the Chair of the Music Education Department in the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University.
Brenda Nitsch will conduct the All County Senior High Chorus. Nitsch contributes as guest clinician/presenter at area college workshops and NYSSMA Conventions.
Westfield choral teacher Kent Knappenberger will accompany the Senior High Chorus.
The last performing group will be the All-County Senior High Band, directed this year Dr. Stephen L. Gage, Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Youngstown State University's Dana School of Music.
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 Nina Karbacka, retired music teacher from the Jamestown Public Schools.
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.
A generous grant from the Thomas H. Brown Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation assists 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 original pieces of music from which to study and perform. Due to copyright laws, every student must be supplied with his or her own purchased part for each song, totaling hundreds of dollars. Support such as the Thomas H. Brown Fund makes this possible, and for that CCMTA is grateful.
The 2013 CCMTA Scholarship winners will be presented to the audience at this concert. On Wednesday, May 8, CCMTA hosted scholarship auditions at Forestville High School. These scholarships are awarded to Chautauqua County music students for summer music camp, private instruction or toward college expenses, should the student choose a career path in music.
Local scholarship award winners are as follows: Lesson/music camp $400 winners Emma Mason, voice, Westfield Academy and Heather Yeager, euphonium, Panama Central School; young musician $100 winner, Sarah Tilley, oboe, Westfield Academy.
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.
Tickets will be available at the amphitheater gate half an hour prior to the concert. Adult tickets are $5 cash, student and senior tickets are $3. Parking in the Institution lot will be free.