BHS symphonic band to perform at national festival

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Lisa Bass
Contributing writer

Photos by Lisa Bass
The Blacksburg High School Symphonic Band has been selected to perform at the 2018 Music For All National Festival, sponsored by Yamaha, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Music for All is one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations advocating in support of music education.


The festival showcases the finest music ensembles and student musicians in America, shining a spotlight on outstanding music composition and the importance of music education.

Ensembles that perform at the festival are recognized as being among the finest in the nation. This will be Blacksburg High School’s first appearance at the event and a rare learning experience for the symphonic band students.

The BHS symphonic band had to record and submit an audition recording in the spring, which was then evaluated by conductors from prestigious universities. A record number of school ensembles applied this year and only the top musical groups in the nation were accepted. BHS is one of 71 ensembles from other schools across the nation selected to perform at the 2018 Festival.

Senior and baritone saxophone player Nate Penver did not have high hopes that the BHS audition would be picked in the top 25.

“It was heartwarming to know we got in. This is exciting,” He said.

According to Pearman, BHS is will be one of 27 symphonic bands and only the third band program from Virginia outside of the Northern Virginia area to be accepted since the festival began in 1992. This is considered one of the highest honors that can be earned by a school band in the nation.

Senior Grace Turner, who plays trumpet in the band said the achievement is a collective effort.

“To hear about this selection at summer band camp was a big deal,” she said. “This selective program reflects really well on the director, the band program and BHS.”

Director Pearman said that the festival will put the Blacksburg band on a national level.

“This experience will push myself as a director and the students themselves,” he said.

Upon acceptance to the festival, Pearman had to submit ten pieces. By the end of September, the group will be receiving a list of the four or five pieces to perform in a 30-minute session in March. All the invited bands will perform different musical selections, and there can be no repeats.

The Blacksburg High School Symphonic Band is under the direction of Darrell Pearman and was selected by a panel of esteemed music educators and conductors to perform at a national festival in March.

Each band will play a session before nationally recognized evaluators and clinicians in a completely supportive, non-competitive environment. Following the performance, each invited band receives an on-stage clinic with three festival evaluators/clinicians. Concert band directors will receive recorded and written comments from the evaluators and recorded and written input on their conducting from a respected conductor.

Additionally, all students will participate in instrumental master classes led by top applied faculty professional musicians.

“I am looking forward to the individual instrument clinic,” Turner said.

This valuable educational experience for BHS will total around $49,000, or about $850 per student. The BHS Band Boosters are working hard to raise the funds to get all 66 students, their equipment and possibly 10 adult chaperones to Indianapolis.

“Blacksburg Middle School’s new band director, Harry Farmer, will be joining us,” Pearman said.

Emma Nichols is a junior oboe player who understands the tasks ahead for the entire band program. In addition of practicing for the festival musical compositions, Nichols said, they would have the usual school-year concerts and marching band.

“BHS is celebrating the ‘Year of Arts’ with a showcase of the entire fine arts planned in December at the Moss Art Center, “ Nichols said.

When asked about the BHS freshman band players who were not part of the audition, Nichols responded, “We will provide the freshman with support to continue this standard of excellence to the festival.”

Pearman agrees, “Our freshman came from a terrific band program at BMS.”

According to Band Booster President Judy Hole, efforts have already started with 50-50 tickets at home football games, GoFundMe accounts, grant writing, busking at the Tech Bookstore on VT home games, seeking corporate sponsorships and anything else that can be imagined.

“I am very excited for the BHS symphonic band. It is a wonderful opportunity to be recognized for something so prestigious,” Hole said. “The students and parents have been hard at work fundraising already and have more activities planned. The easiest way to help us is our GoFundMe account or a straight donation to the Band Boosters. We want to make this trip affordable for all our hardworking and excellent musicians.”

Plans are in the works for a huge yard sale at Kipps Elementary School from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7.

The Band Boosters donation letter states that “community support is essential to making this experience happen.”

“The band students are really working hard for this trip. We are committed to raise the funds so no one is left behind,” Penver said.

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com and search “BHS Band Trip to MFA Festival.”