LCPS showcasing All-County band, All-County chorus during March
Trombonists in the 2018 All-County Band perform in the group’s inaugural concert last February. The second annual All-County Band concert is Saturday, followed a week later by the All-County Chorus concert.
Music and art will take centerstage the next two Saturday as Lenoir County Public Schools showcases its All-County Band for middle and high school musicians and its All-County Chorus for elementary, middle and high school vocalists.
The All-County Band concert begins at 3 p.m. Saturday and the All-County Chorus performance begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Both concerts will be at the Kinston-Lenoir County Performing Arts Center on the campus of Kinston High School. Admission to both concerts is free.
An All-County Art Show will be on display throughout the band and chorus events.
In its second year, the All-County Band performance will involve 128 students from all middle schools and the three traditional high schools, a significant boost in participation from the 2018 concert.
“Our participation is up about 30 percent,” said Baily Rose, band director at North Lenoir High School and an organizer of Saturday’s event. “We have more kids who have committed to doing it, and I think it was because a lot of them participated last year and they had a really good time with the clinicians.”
Tina Ribinett, the band director at C.M. Epps Middle School in Greenville, will work with musicians from LCPS middle schools and Jorge Benitez, band director at Havelock High School, will lead the older students.
The program of contemporary band music will be performed in two parts – the middle and high school honors bands performing separately and then combining for two pieces, as well as for the National Anthem that will open the program. Two small ensembles – a quartet and a trio – made up of students chosen for the groups after auditions will each play a selection.
The honors bands will play together for the first time Friday during a practice session with the guest conductors, but band members have been practicing the program’s music in their respective schools for weeks, according to Rose.
“For the past two weeks, we’ve been working only on all-county music,” he said. “The expectation is when they get there on Friday that they know their part well enough to start putting it together with everyone else.”
The pressure of having a lot to do in a short amount of time is part of the excitement of the all-county experience, Rose added.
“We say honors bands are a chance for kids to spend an intensive amount of time playing music well. It gives them a chance to be around kids who want to be there and gives them a chance to experience a different person’s perspective on the music,” he said. “It puts them in a different atmosphere.”
A week after the band concert, the All-County Chorus will take the stage for the sixth year, featuring more than 200 members from across the school district.
This is the first year both the All-County Band and All-County Chorus have performed in the same month. March is designated nationally as Music in Our Schools Month.
The chorus concert will feature four numbers each by the elementary group and the middle school and high school group, as well as two pieces by the combined chorus, including the National Anthem to open the concert.
Jeremy Tucker, director of the Raleigh Boys Choir and music and theater arts consultant with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, will direct the elementary chorus. Accompanist will be Wesley Letchworth, music educator at Moss Hill Elementary School.
Jacob Mewborn, director of music ministries at Queen Street United Methodist Church, will direct the middle school and high school chorus with Sheila Miller, a retired music editor, providing accompaniment.
A “fair number” of chorus members are returnees from previous years, according to concert organizer Christy White, which makes putting this concert together easier – to a point. “It makes it easier in terms of the students knowing what to expect but the music is all new to them,” said White, the music educator at Banks Elementary School and the district’s fine arts lead.
Like their counterparts in band, the chorus members have been practicing the concert pieces at their schools for a several weeks; but the magic happens when all 200-plus voices combine.
“I think they get a greater appreciation for what music can do and get to have an experience above and beyond what they can have at their own schools because of the large number of students who participate,” White said.