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County's best young musicians band together

February 05, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Lisa Hollar remembers how scared she was auditioning for the 2000 All County Senior High School Concert Band and Senior High School Jazz Ensemble.

Hollar, 17, said she practiced more for the auditions than she did for the groups' concert Saturday night.

But the stress and effort were worth earning a place among the more than 250 talented student musicians representing Washington County's middle and high schools at this year's concert, the North Hagerstown High senior said.

"It's a good, rewarding experience to be with other musicians from the county," said Hollar, who played oboe in the concert band and alto saxophone in the jazz ensemble.

Nearly every seat in the North Hagerstown High auditorium was filled as the 21-member jazz ensemble began the concert with a foot-tapping, finger-snapping rendition of "Big Swing Face."

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The jazz ensemble played two more numbers, the last a medley tribute to Count Basie, before giving up the spotlight to the All County Middle School Concert Band.

Waiting in a practice room before the concert, Smithsburg Middle eighth-grader Nicholas Bayer said he was glad he was chosen to playing trombone for the All County Middle School Concert Band this year.

Although the band comprises students representing all of Washington County's middle schools - students who normally don't play together - the music came together in the short time they had to practice, said Bayer, 14.

The experience also gave him the opportunity to get to know fellow trombonist Curtis Babbie, 13, an eighth-grade student at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport, he said.

Bayer's favorite of the four pieces the band played in the concert was "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"

"I like the movie and the piece of music is exciting," he said.

South Hagerstown High junior Andie Humphreys, chosen to play baritone in the All County Senior High School Concert Band, liked playing "The Promise" best.

"It's slow, and slower songs are harder to play, but it's really pretty," said Humphreys, 16, who was playing in the concert for the first time this year.

Not only was it an honor to be chosen for the band, it was fun to participate, she said.

With only three days to practice as a group, it was a challenge to pull everything together, Humphreys said.

It took a lot of hard work to prepare for the concert, said Hancock Senior High student Meladie Thomas, who played clarinet in the senior high concert band.

Although she played in the concert all three years of middle school, Thomas, 16, said it was the first time she played at the senior high level.

She was the only student from her school, she said.

It was a lot different from playing in her school band, which is about one-quarter the size of the All County concert band, she said.

The students - selected by their band directors at the middle school level and by audition at the high school level - are able to handle the condensed rehearsals, said Susie Kunkle, music resource specialist for Washington County Schools.

The middle school students had just one rehearsal before the guest conductor came in to work with them, Kunkle said. The jazz ensemble had about five.

The high school concert band students had only the three rehearsals with their guest conductor, who worked with them Thursday evening, all day Friday and for two hours before the concert Saturday, Kunkle said.

As in previous years, band directors from around the county played a major role in helping to prepare students for the concert, she said, and they did it on their own time.

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