Honors concert connects students, celebrates musicianship
DENVER – More than 300 high school musicians represented Douglas County School District (DCSD) at the Continental League Music Festival on January 12.
The festival, held at Boettcher Concert Hall, featured a performance from the Continental League Honor Orchestra, Honor Choir and Honor Band. The event concluded with a combined ensemble performance of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Performers from DCSD were joined by peers from Littleton High School, Heritage High School and Regis High School.
Chaparral High School Director of Bands Steve Hinman was thoroughly impressed with the performance at Boettcher.
“The concert was truly spectacular! The orchestra opened the concert, followed by the massed choir, and then the band performed. The concert culminated with a beautiful rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Hinman said.
The showcase celebrates the achievement of student musicians, as well as giving students a glimpse into the realm of performing arts. Students also have the opportunity to compare notes with their counterparts, many of whom will pursue music when they enter college.
Hinman feels the combination of schools and musical groups creates an atmosphere of camaraderie, observing, “Students always seem to make strong connections with their peers from other schools, because of the passion they all share for music.”
Students are selected for the Continental League after participating in a blind audition (judges hear, but do not see the performer). Rehearsals for the festival began after school in November, with a series of intensive practice sessions taking place before the concert. Although school music directors are present at rehearsals, guest conductors for each ensemble lead the preparations and performances.
The guest conductors for this year’s festival brought an extensive array of accomplishments to the event. Adam Flatt, the music director of the Colorado Ballet and Oregon’s Newport Symphony, served as the orchestra’s guest conductor. The choir was conducted by Dr. Julian Gomez-Giraldo, who is the director of orchestras at Eastern Washington University and the artistic director of the Spokane Symphony Chorale. Leading the Honor Band was Emeritus Professor Ray E. Cramer from Indiana University.
“The students have such a short period of time to prepare for their performances in Boettcher Concert Hall,” Hinman said, “but they always seem to rise to the occasion with very difficult music! The Honor conductors had a very wide range of experience, and really brought out the best in each group. Judging from the audience response to all three groups, I believe the audience felt the same exact way.
Photos courtesy of Stephen Hinman