Students handle pre-concert jitters before the Washington County Public Schools All County concert

January 28, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Senior high school violin players perform Saturday night with the Washington County All-County Orchestra at North Hagerstown High School.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Everyone handles pre-concert jitters differently.

Students gathered Saturday for Washington County Public Schools All County Middle and Senior High School Orchestras concert illustrated this point. The young musicians, donning black and white formal wear, awaited their performance in the library at North Hagerstown High School.

One hurried past at lightning speed with a pizza. Another slept in a chair at a table.

Some wielded bows, applying rosin in long, smooth strokes. Another wielded a mascara wand, applying makeup in a short, rhythmic pattern.

Two guys sat in a corner, ankles crossed over knees, looking ultra cool, as if they might be closing a business deal. Another stood in the center of a circle of students, striking outlandish poses and flailing his limbs like an interpretive dancer gone berserk.

“This helps release artistic fluid. Gets the creative juices flowing,” Kyle Lahr joked.

Kyle, 16, a junior at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, said he had discovered a formula for feeling confident while performing on stage.

“I’ve found that the stupider you act beforehand, the less nervous you feel on stage. Because then if you go on and pull off something even sort of professional, you’ll feel really awesome,” he said.

Other students took a less humorous, more studious approach.

Cellist Lucas Hanson, 14, a freshman at Barbara Ingram, sat with intense focus, warming up with pieces he plays for his classes at school. But he said he would not venture to play the songs slated for the concert.

“I’m saving that,” he said.

Sara Wagner, on the other hand, sat at a table nearby playing each concert selection, in order, beginning to end. Wagner, 17, a junior at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, said her favorite concert piece was “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

“I couldn’t believe how good we sounded in practice. It sounded like it was out of the movie,” Sara said. “I am overwhelmed to be a part of something like that.”

Robert B. Hovermale, Washington County Public Schools supervisor of visual and performing arts, said such experiences are among the many benefits of the all-county program, through which students play with others from throughout the county under the direction of a professional guest conductor.

“It’s this whole intense environment of practicing all day. They get to know kids from different schools. It’s a chance to show that music, especially, is not us against them, against them, against them,” Hovermale said. “It’s just all of us can come together to create something that’s completely unique.”

Brianna Arnemann, 16, a junior at Barbara Ingram, said Mitchell Arnold, guest conductor for the high school students, helped the group play as one.

“He pushed us a lot, to our limits. He helped us realize how good we can do and how good we can sound,” Brianna said.

Each of the county’s eight middle and eight high schools were represented by about 230 student musicians. Hovermale said the North auditorium seats 1,200 people and he expected it to be “just about filled.”

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