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MVHS students chosen for regional band/chorus
Vocalist Alex Witas, trombonist Nick Williams and trumpeter Erich Zurhorst prepare for Kennebec Valley Music Educators Association festival.
Tory Gordon and Cody Smith will sing with students from across the state in the KVMEA chorus.
RUMFORD -- Five Mountain Valley High School students will participate in Kennebec Valley Music Educators Association (KVMEA) concerts this Saturday.
KVMEA chooses the best musicians and vocalists from 18 high schools from Newport to Rangeley and Belfast to Skowhegan.
MVHS vocalists include Tory Gordon, Cody Smith and Alex Witas. Nick Williams will play trombone and Erich Zurhorst will play trumpet. All are seniors with the exception of Witas who is a junior.
The first step is an audition in the fall. Williams has made it five times since his first successful audition in the seventh grade. He explained, “You practice in advance. You have to be able to play two scales chosen at random, the chromatic scale and a prepared piece. Then you sight read a piece. You are scored and if you pass a certain number for your instrument, you’re in.”
Witas auditioned for the first time. “Mr. Prescott offered singers one song to prepare,” Witas describes. “I wanted to try just the vocal song, not the instrumental. We normally finish chorus early so I used the extra time to practice. At the audition, singers are called one by one. You have a music stand. The accompanist played song, gave 4 count, and then you sing your piece. Sight-reading is not heavily graded. The sight-reading piece revolves around a scale and is sung a capella, without accompaniment.”
The next step is practicing. Zurhorst, who has been accepted every other year since sixth grade, said, “Generally, we study music on our own until the day before the performance.”
Then finally the festival arrives. On Friday, the students will practice together from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then on Saturday, they will practice until their concert.
Williams recalls, “The first day is a lot of practicing and is exhausting. The festival is always exhausting but a lot of fun.”
Gordon participated in the festival when she was in middle school and remembers, “It’s intense rehearsal for a day over songs that you were just introduced to. The next day you perform.”
Smith will participate for the fourth time. He explains, “It’s a good experience to interact with others from around the state. The instructors are great.
The chorus members spend one whole day practicing. Then on the second day, the chorus is in harmony with more than 100 people -- that’s really cool how it comes together.”
Zurhorst agreed, “It’s amazing how musicians who don’t know each other just play together and make great music.”
“It feels great to be involved but I’m nervous,” said Witas. “I’m definitely going to do it next year. Mr. Prescott says it’s like public speaking -- the more you do it the more comfortable you become.”
According to Gordon, the joy of participating is “getting to meet people from all over the state who really love music.”
The auditorium at Waterville High School will open for concert attendees approximately one-half hour prior to the start of the program. The KVMEA band concert will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the KVMEA chorus concert will take place at 4 p.m. Admission is $2 for students, $3 for adults and $10 for families.