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Wind Ensemble selected to perform at state conference

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
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The North Hills High School Wind Ensemble — a concert band with 42 students in grades nine through 12 — has been selected to perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, or PMEA, annual conference in Hershey in March 2014.

The North Hills High School Wind Ensemble — a concert band with 42 students in grades nine through 12 — has been selected to perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, or PMEA, annual conference in Hershey in March.

It will be the sixth time in about 25 years that a North Hills School District band has been chosen for the honor.

“Being chosen is the highest achievement and honor for a concert band because it means our professional peers are saying we're a model band for schools all over the state,” said Len Lavelle, the North Hills director of bands and orchestras.

Anthony Sciulli, 18, an alto saxophone player from Ross Township, has been selected for honors bands before but said this recognition is even more rewarding because the entire ensemble was selected.

“It's like winning the WPIAL championships, as opposed to being named to the all-section team. It's an achievement we can all appreciate together because we all worked hard to get here,” the senior said.

The PMEA is a statewide nonprofit organization composed of more than 5,000 music teachers and professors, band leaders and music industry professionals. Its mission is to promote and support high quality music education, learning and performance in schools and communities. Its annual conference is a professional development event that includes about 100 sessions ranging from music technology to musical leadership.

“We spotlight student musicians at the conference in order to recognize their achievement, to provide new ideas for teachers and to make it a more well-rounded event,” said Abi Young, PMEA director of meetings and membership.

The PMEA, headquartered in Hamburg, Berks County, received applications from 135 choruses, orchestras, jazz bands, concert bands, quartets and community bands throughout Pennsylvania requesting consideration for performance time. Thirty of these groups were chosen to perform during the three-day conference; two were high school concert bands, including the North Hills Wind Ensemble, said Young, 32, of Reading.

The group was selected through blind auditions conducted online. Three judges — elementary, middle school and high school band teachers — evaluated recordings of all 14 high school band entrants based on tone quality, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, technique, overall ensemble sound and expression.

North Hills trumpet player Gabe Stanton, 18, of Ross Township said the ensemble's selection resulted from a team effort.

“We all made this happen together, and we all get to share in the fruits together,” said Stanton, a senior.

The ensemble will perform a half-hour concert at the conference, according to Lavelle, 33, of Ross. “We'll play varied works, which include some traditional selections, a march, a lyrical piece and more,” he said.

“This is such an honor because we're playing in front of such a discerning audience in a ballroom that's nearly the size of a football field,” Lavelle added.

The North Hills Junior High School band performed at the PMEA Conference in 2012; senior high school bands performed at conferences in 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2002.

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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