Students gain experience during District 1 band festival at Baldwin

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 10:38 p.m.

Young musicians who practiced last week at Baldwin High School but couldn't perform at a scheduled concert still got the most out of the event.

The 2013 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 1 West band concert was cancelled on Jan. 25 due to the snowstorm. More than 150 students selected from 46 high schools practiced for three days — and competed — leading up to the event.

“Having this experience is more important than an actual concert,” said Gregory Steele, music teacher at Baldwin High School, who helped coordinate the event.

Baldwin High School hosted the festival from Jan. 23 to 25 in the performing arts center. Students from high schools in Allegheny, Washington and Greene counties were represented.

High school band directors from each school recommended one or two students to represent them at the District 1 level.

“It's almost like the National Football League draft,” Steele said. “These are the best musicians from their high schools.”

West Chester University bands director Andrew Yozviak worked with the students during rehearsals and was scheduled to conduct them during the concert.

Students practiced seven pieces of music prior to the festival. They performed several measures from one of the compositions before a panel of the high school music teachers during the event.

Students with the highest scores will move onto the association's regional competition level scheduled for March 7 to 9 at Mercer Area Middle-High School. Those students who receive high scores at the regional level advance to the state competition set for April in Erie.

Baldwin High School students include Kate Marze and Laura Stumpf, flautists; Callie Corcoran, oboist; Sarah Dillinger, Marissa Eynon and Sydney Harsh, clarinetists; Dan DeSimone, a cornet player; Tom Werkmeister, a trombone player; Stephanie Pavlick, a tuba player; and Connor Doran, pianist. Baldwin has a number of student musicians because the host school receives more seats than others, Steele said.

Students from Thomas Jefferson High School include Rachel Reyher, a tenor saxophonist; Victoria Cotter, a trumpet player; and Erin Lazar, a trombone player. Josh O'Neil, a clarinetist, represented Brentwood.

The competition is sponsored by the Pennsylvaia Music Educators Association, a nonprofit group based in Hamburg.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at

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