By: Kayla Kuppertz Editor-in-Chief
The PMEA District Festivals were kicked off this year with District Orchestra in Meadville. Students from surrounding school districts attended the three-day event held January 14-16, including our own Kayla Kuppertz, Mikki Gifford, and Eric Course.
Senior, Kuppertz, went on violin, junior, Gifford, attended on cello, and sophomore, Course, played string bass at the event. The students rehearsed over the three-day period under the direction of guest conductor, Mr. Jason Seber, and played four pieces: Les Toreadors from the musical, Carmen, Unfinished Symphony, the first movement, With Malice Toward None, from the movie, Lincoln, and Finale from Firebird Suite. This was Kuppertz’s third and final orchestra festival, and Gifford and Course’s first.
Mikki Gifford also went on to attend District Band for the second time. That festival was held in Cameron County, from January 28-30. She represented Eisenhower on trumpet, playing the coronet part and receiving a solo. The pieces they played included Joy, Compassion, and America the Beautiful, among others. Gifford will be moving on to Region Band at The Marion Center on March 11. The Squire spoke with Mikki about her experience.
The Squire: How many total festivals have you attended?
Mikki Gifford: Well, I’ve gone to one Junior District festival, two District Band festivals, one for District Orchestra, and I’ll be going to Region Band, so all together: five.
TS: How long have you been interested in music?
MG: I’ve been into music for such a long time.
TS: What did you do to prepare for the events?
MG: I made sure that I devoted a lot of time to practicing.
TS: Which event posed a greater challenge?
MG: District Orchestra was definitely more challenging.
TS: If there was one thing you could change about the events, what would it be?
MG: I would make sure that there was more time for dinner.
TS: What was the best part of each experience for you?
MG: The best part of it all would have to be meeting new friends.
TS: Will music carry over into a career for you?
MG: Maybe. I want to go into music therapy.
The Squire also spoke with band and orchestra director, Mr. Napolitan, about the events.
The Squire: How do the skill levels of the festivals differ? (Band v. Orchestra, Districts v. Regions)
Mr. Napolitan: It depends on the year and how many students return with experience. There may be more upperclassman who have experience from previous years.
TS: How many students have progressed in the past?
MN: I usually have somebody go every year. The students in District Band mostly move on.
TS: What advice do you have for students attending the festivals?
MN: Make sure you’re listening to what the guest conductor has to say. Many times they’re talking at a higher level for the level of the performance in order to get more accomplished.
Instrumentalists are encouraged to try and attend these festivals that allow for a new learning experience and an opportunity to play with a variety of other musicians. Everyone else should come support these students at their concerts. The Squire wishes Mikki the best of luck at Regions!