Despite having their rehearsal time cut in half due to a snow day, 75 of the state’s top high school musicians showed up ready to shine for the first annual New Castle County Honors Band Concert on March 2.
Students from 13 schools took the stage after just six hours of practice together, presenting a stellar performance of a program directed by guest conductor Heidi I. Sarver. Sarver is a professor of music and director of Athletic Bands at the University of Delaware.
Band directors from each participating school nominated students for the opportunity to participate in this year’s NCC Honors Band.
The concert featured the pieces Among the Clouds by Brian Balmages and An American Elegy, Frank Ticheli.
“We weren’t expecting to lose a day of rehearsal. But our conductor was flexible and made the experience fantastic for all of the students involved,” said Schyler Adkins, band director at Brandywine High School and the instructor who initiated the New Castle County Honors Band idea.
Before this year, students in high school bands in New Castle County had limited options to perform. They could play in their schools or audition to perform in the Delaware All State band. “When I first started teaching three years ago, I noticed that for each student that might choose to audition for All State Band in a given year, I had several more who performed well, but just under what they would need for that group,” said Adkins. “I wanted to give more New Castle students the opportunity to play in a select group, the way that Kent and Sussex county students do.”
Adkins says his goal is to invite even more schools to participate — next year 30 schools are on his list — and to continue to bring experienced and inspirational guest conductors to the program. “This was the start of what will be a great opportunity for young musicians across New Castle County for years to come,” he said.