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Kittanning student to compete in music competition

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Mark Wasilko will participate in state music competition this weekend.

WALKCHALK – Music has played no small roll in Mark Wasilko's life since the fourth grade.

Today, the 17-year-old Kittanning High School student is determined that music will be his career.

Years of study and practice are paying off.

This weekend, Wasilko will be performing at state-level competitions in Erie demonstrating his expertise with the euphonium, a near relative of the tuba.

Wasilko is one of a select few high-school musicians to perform at state level.

He is the only musician from Kittanning High and the first KHS student selected in five years.

Wasilko said the selection process began in early January at a county competition, followed by a district competition later that month.

He said only four students went to district competition but he was the only student selected for regional competition that was in March in Meadville. His performance in that competition qualified him for the prestigious state-level competition.

Wasilko described how judges at each level determine which students will advance to a higher level.

“Judges score each musician in at least five areas,” he said, “ the first is dynamics. Basically, that is whether a note is played loud or soft. You are also scored on rhythmic techniques and tone quality. Next is intonation, or simply, how in tune you are. Judges also listen for articulation, that is whether a note is played short, accented or more flowing.”

The state competition will last four days. It began Wednesday and will culminate Saturday with four ensembles consisting of a concert band, a wind ensemble, an orchestra chorus and a jazz ensemble. Each day begins at 6:30 a.m. and playing continues well into the evening.

Despite the intense schedule of state competition, Wasilko looked forward to the four-day adventure. However, perhaps his biggest challenge lies just ahead. In August he will be enrolled in the music education department at Grove City College, and although classes don't start until Aug. 22, he will have to show up two weeks early since he was selected for the college's marching band.

He said he applied at Grove City in December because of what he heard about the school's excellent music education program and because it is a Christian-oriented school and has reasonable tuition.

“My goal is to be a high-school band teacher. Ever since fourth grade at West Hills Elementary I have had music teachers that have inspired and encouraged me. I would like to inspire other students as well. My parents and my sister are behind me and my fellow band members, as well as the faculty at Kittanning High School are very supportive. I'm really looking forward to starting school this August,” he said

In addition to the euphonium, Wasilko plays several other instruments including trumpet. He is a member of the National Honor Society and is the son of Bridgett and Mark Wasilko of Walkchalk.

Tom Mitchell is a correspondent for the Leader Times.

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