Stratford High Wind Orchestra to perform in national Music for All concert
Published Monday, Nov. 18, 2019
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber
Stratford High’s wind orchestra has been selected to perform in a national concert in March, and the common sentiment from its band directors and students: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Stratford Wind Orchestra (SWO) will perform at the Music for All National Concert Band Festival in March. Stratford is the first band from Berkeley County to receive the honor, second in the lowcountry and the sixth school from South Carolina to be accepted into the event.
The spring concert is in Indiana. The group plays under the leadership of band directors Todd Smith and Josh Artz. Stratford’s wind orchestra was selected from more than 100 groups around the country. Students will attend concerts, lectures, master classes in addition to performing as a featured group for the event.
“Every single week they get better and better and it’s just really great to see them really work toward such a giant goal that’s on the national stage,” Smith said. “So we’re really proud of the work they’re doing. We’re really proud of how they’re taking this opportunity to grow our program and to grow our…musicianship through this process.”
Artz said there are 3,700 students who will be at the festival. The group will be among one of 16 ensembles to take the national stage.
“This is kind of a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students but also for our program here at Berkeley County,” Artz said, adding, “It’s definitely a really high, prestigious thing we’re bringing to the county here.”
Artz said some bands who have applied and made it to the concert before that did not get re-selected this go-around.
“So every year the caliber of musicians change, it fluctuates, and they’re saying this year is one of the most competitive years that they’ve seen,” Artz said.
Recordings from last spring were submitted to MFA and were adjudicated by a panel of university professors and professional music educations. The school was recognized as having achieved the highest level of musical performance and artistry.
Stratford’s orchestra will perform several different pieces of music: Mother Earth Fanfare by David Maslanka, Psalm for Band by Vincent Persichetti, Paprikash by Julie Giroux, Colonial Song by Percy A. Grainger, and Of Our New Day Begun by Omar Thomas.
The directors said the final selection “Of Our New Day Begun” is written to honor the lives of the nine residents killed in Jun 17 at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The performance cycle will coincide with the five-year anniversary of the tragedy.
The band consists of about 60 students ranging from ninth to 12th grade, who audition the previous May to be a part of the group.
“These are auditioned students that are here because they want to be here,” Smith said.
Twelfth-grader Evie O’Saben, who plays the French horn, said she is excited about the big performance.
“I’m just really excited to see…a bunch of people that are as into this as we are and…just one last big thing for senior year,” she said.
Twelfth-grader Teague McCracken, who plays clarinet, said he is excited to represent Stratford on a national level, “and to get to meet a bunch of kids who are talented and love band as much as we do.”
Twelfth-grader Mikey Goossens, who plays bass trombone, gave similar thoughts.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s really special because it’s my senior year but…this band has grown a lot over the past four years and definitely making a bigger name for ourselves.”
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber
The following students make up the SWO: