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North Hills

Hampton Wind Ensemble invited to state conference

| Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, 7:21 p.m.
Hampton High School Wind Ensemble will perform at the 2017 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference in April in Erie.  The ensemble annually auditions to play at the event, but last performed at the state conference in 2008.
Hampton High School Wind Ensemble will perform at the 2017 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference in April in Erie. The ensemble annually auditions to play at the event, but last performed at the state conference in 2008.

Months of weekly, pre-dawn practices paid off for the Hampton High School Wind Ensemble.

The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) wants the 49-member group to perform at its next state conference.

“It's something we apply for every year, but the invitation only comes every so often,” said Hampton High School Band Director Chad Himmler, 39, of Hampton.

“The kids were very excited,” he said. “They were genuinely happy.”

To hone their musical skills, members of the wind ensemble, an honors band, practice at 6:55 a.m. one morning per week from January to May, Himmler said.

Students must pass a competitive audition to join the group.

“They play all collegiate and professional level music,” Himmler said.

Their instruments are flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tubas, euphoniums, French horns and percussion instruments.

Last May, Himmler uploaded about 20 minutes of the ensemble's recorded performances to PMEA's website as part of an audition process.

The ensemble offered three works on audio files: “The Echo Never Fades” by David Gillingham; “Rolling Thunder March” by Henry Fillmore; and “Incantation and Dance” by John Barnes Chance.

A number of 2016 Hampton graduates helped make the music that earned the ensemble's invitation to perform at the 2017 PMEA conference slated April 19 to 22 in Erie.

“One of the first things I did was to send a congratulatory email to all of last year's students, as they made up about one-third of the group,” Himmler wrote in an email. “The students and I are humbled by this honor as we know that there are many incredible high school bands in southwestern Pennsylvania.”

PMEA receives 130 to 150 auditions each year from such groups, Himmler said.

A listening committee of PMEA members then selects groups to perform at the state conference, Himmler said.

The Hampton High School Wind Ensemble and Moon Area High School Symphonic Band both will perform April 20 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center,

But Himmler hasn't decided what music the wind ensemble will play at the PMEA conference.

“The event typically attracts more than 1,400 registered attendees, approximately 120 exhibiting companies — from instrument and uniform makers, to music retailers, to fundraising companies, to colleges and universities — and more than 1,200 students and directors that make up the selected performing ensembles,” reported Johanna Steinbacher, PMEA's professional development council chairwoman, in an email. “The event features around 100 break-out sessions as well as 25 to 30 concerts.”

The performers range from choirs to jazz bands.

“The groups that perform there are very good,” Himmler said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

The following Pittsburgh area groups also will perform at the conference: Bradford Woods Elementary School Singing Tigers; Butler Golden Tornado Percussion Ensemble; Canonsburg Middle School Symphonic Band; Fox Chapel Area High School Madrigal Singers; North Pittsburgh Youth Flute Ensemble; Pine-Richland High School Chamber Singers and Seneca Valley Eighth Grade Chorus.

Deborah Deasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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