Hill School Musician Chosen For Band Festival

POTTSTOWN PA – Flautist Rachel Liu of The Hill School in Pottstown is one of 130 students in Montgomery and Bucks counties who have been chosen to perform in this year’s edition of the District 11 Band Festival, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.

The event will be hosted for the first time in the past 15 years by the Pottsgrove School District, Jan. 23-25 (2019; Wednesday through Friday), Pottsgrove Director of Bands Shawn Campopiano reported.

The festival’s participating students auditioned along with nearly 600 peers to earn a performer’s chair. Those who advanced will audition again next week to earn a spot at the regional level, which Campopiano said Tuesday (Jan. 15) “is the last stop before qualifying for an All-State ensemble.”

In Pennsylvania’s high school musical universe, he indicated, being selected to play in the festival is a significant honor.

Also participating from neighboring western Montgomery County schools are Pottsgrove High students Carmela Steyaert and Madison Palma, flute; Josiah Thieme, alto saxophone; Colton DiCriscio, french horn; Jiajun Lin, trombone; and Joshua Ross, euphonium; Colleen McDermott of Spring-Ford, percussion; Garrett Ryan of Perkiomen Valley, tuba; Rebecca Derham and Matthew Tremba, both of The Perkiomen School, french horn; Alexander JinAngela Li, and Alec Chang, all of Methacton, clarinet; Jon Solominsky of Methacton, low clarinet; and Harsha Santhanam and Patrick Li, both of Methacton, alto saxophone.

The showpiece of the festival will be its Jan. 25 concert at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Pottsgrove Middle School, led by guest conductor Dr. James Colonna. He is the director of bands at Messiah College, where he teaches graduate instrumental conducting, and conducts the wind ensemble. Colonna also is an internationally known composer whose works have been performed in Belgium, Finland, and Japan.

Performing students arrive Wednesday night for auditions, then begin rehearsing a collegiate-level program with pieces chosen by Colonna. They’ll spend 16 hours in rehearsal during the three-day period, preparing for Friday’s performance.

The concert is scheduled to include the U.S. Armed Forces edition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by John Stafford Smith, “Uplifted” by Benjamin Blasko, “Elfin Thunderbolt” by Nancy Galbraith, “In Memoriam: Kristina” by Bruce Yurko, Colonna’s own “Joshua’s Shop of Miracles and Curiosities,” “Children’s March” by Percy Grainger, “The Fly” by Óscar Navarro, and “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” by John Phillip Sousa.

The performance is open to the public. Tickets cost $5, and will be available at the door.

A program of this magnitude “takes a lot of leg work,” Campopiano noted. Pottsgrove district officials have helped prepare for the concert, he said, thanking them as well as members of the Pottsgrove Music League and “numerous parents, students, and faculty members who are donating both time and goods to ensure we have a rewarding festival.”

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