Local Music Students Participate in Festival Season
by Mavis MacNeil, choral music teacher
HARDWICK – For music students in middle and high school, spring means festival season. In March, April and May, Hazen Union students from grades seven through twelve, are traveling locally and out of state to play and sing with their musical peers from across the region.
On March 10, 12 students participated in the Northeast District Junior High Music Festival at North Country Union High School (NCUHS) in Newport, where two bands and a chorus rehearsed all day and then performed an evening concert for the public. Students in the chorus were Jac Cattier, Karmellah Chaves, Kassidy Gann, Ursa Goldenrose, Piper Hall, and Katelyn Langmaid. Members of the concert band, directed by Hazen band teacher Leah Gagnon, were Manny Fliegelman, trumpet, and Daniel Pougnier, clarinet. The Symphonic Band included Juniper Book, clarinet; Zedekiah Cloutier, trombone; Diamond Kassim, clarinet; and Jo Lander, flute. All students were selected for the festival by teacher nomination.
Most high school music festivals select students by audition. At the highly competitive New England Music Festival in Woodstock, Connecticut, freshman Ethan Gann was among the 210 singers from across New England who participated in the three-day festival in late March. Senior Elias Robertson was also accepted, but was not able to attend.
On March 31 and April 1, nine members of Hazen’s Select Chorus sang in the chorus at the Northeast District High School Music Festival at NUCHS, culminating in a concert on Saturday afternoon. These students were: Jacob Brown, Chloe Cloutier, Grace Cloutier, Rebekah Cloutier, Jonah Fliegelman, Ethan Gann, Megan Gifford, Abe Leveillee, and Elias Robertson. Both of the Northeast District Festivals are sponsored by the Newport Rotary Club.
Three days later, on April 4, Hazen Union and Craftsbury Academy students came together at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro for the first-ever OSSU Art in Bloom celebration, that hosted a busy day of rehearsals; an afternoon performance for the district’s fourth, fifth, and sixth graders; and an evening concert for the public. Additionally, members of Craftsbury’s drama club performed a scene from their recent production, “Hell’s Cafeteria,” and the HCA Gallery displayed a colorful and varied exhibition of students’ artwork.
The festival season will wrap up with the 96th annual All-State Music Festival in St. Albans. Five Hazen Union students will attend. Georgia Allen, violin, will play in the orchestra, and four students will sing in the chorus: Grace Cloutier, Rebekah Cloutier, Abe Leveillee, and Elias Robertson.
Music festivals are an important part of middle- and high-school music education. Students gain exposure to different, often more advanced repertoire than what they play in school, and broaden their musical horizons, abilities, and knowledge through rigorous rehearsal and performance. They are also an important social experience, allowing students to meet and interact with local peers who share their interest in music.
Hazen Union students have regularly been accepted (through audition or nomination) into these events, however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused several years’ festivals to be canceled. Now, fewer students are participating than in pre-pandemic years, but with nearly every school in the state experiencing lower participation in their music programs, the festivals give students an important taste of how it feels to play or sing in a full-sized band or chorus.
After a semester of hard work, Hazen Union’s music ensembles will hold Spring concerts this month for the local community. All concerts will take place in the Hazen Union auditorium at 7 p.m.; Middle School Band and Chorus on Wednesday, May 17; Senior Solos and Small Ensembles on Thursday, May 18; and High School Band and Chorus on Tuesday, May 23. Admission for all concerts is by donation.
[Mavis MacNeil is the choral music teacher at Hazen Union School.]