Honors Music Festival celebrates 75 years


More than 200 students perform March 7

The Scioto County Honors Music Festival will celebrate its milestone 75th anniversary when the Junior High Honors Band and High School Honors Band and Honors Choir perform at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts in Portsmouth March 7.

More than 200 local students and music teachers from Clay, East, Green, Minford, New Boston, Northwest, Oak Hill, Portsmouth, South Webster, Valley, West and Wheelersburg will perform in this year’s Music Festival.

“Students have to audition to get in; for some this will be their first year while others have participated every year for the past six years,” said Sharee Price, event coordinator from the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, in New Boston. “I’m always amazed by how much the sound of the band and choir can change with just a few weeks of intensive rehearsing and by how professional they sound on the evening of their performance. I’m certain the audience will enjoy this year’s concert.”

Dr. Brian Silvey will be conducting the Honors Band with 61 members. Dr. Silvey is Associate Professor of Music Education and Associate Director of Bands at the University of Missouri. At MU, he teaches undergraduate and graduate music education courses, and conducts the Wind Ensemble in the fall semester and the Symphonic Band in the spring semester. Bands under his direction have performed at the Missouri Music Educators Association conference and have commissioned works by leading composers such as David Maslanka, David Gillingham, and Michael Markowski.

Dr. Roosevelt Escalante, Jr., will be conducting the Honors Choir with 95 members. Dr. Escalante is Associate Professor of Music and Associate Director of Choral Activities at Morehead State University, where he conducts the University Chorus, Black Gospel Ensemble, Jazz Vocal Ensemble, teaches Vocal Methods and Materials, and Music Theory III. While teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he studied with renowned pianist Richard Cass and choral visionary Eph Ehly.

The evening starts at 6:45 p.m. on March 7, with the 47-member Junior High Honors Band performing musical selections prior to the High School Festival. Guest Conductor Chad Sheridan will lead them in their performance.

Sheridan is in his 15th year as Director of Bands at Nagel Middle School of the Forest Hills School District, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Some of his teaching responsibilities include director of the Nagel Symphony Orchestra, 7th and 8th grade concert bands, middle school jazz bands, percussion ensembles, and various other chamber groups.

The High School Honors Band and Choir will then perform at 7:30 p.m., led by Dr.’s Silvey and Escalante, respectively.

“It’s great to have guest conductors of this caliber working with our students. Both the students and the teachers learn from them. I think it’s a very valuable experience for everyone involved,” Price said.

Donna Collins, executive director of the Ohio Arts Council, will be this year’s featured guest speaker to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Honors Music Festival. She will deliver a short presentation at the start of the high school concert.

“I know that she (Donna Collins) is very supportive of the arts, in general, and is excited about being here for the event. She’s actually going to be doing a workshop with our music teachers after the music festival is over. We’re very happy and honored to have her join us for this event,” Price said.

During the Music Festival two students will be awarded scholarships to attend a college or university at which they wish to study music.

Price worked with local artists Shawn Fisher and Jason Whisman to come up with a unique design for the 75th Anniversary logo. The design will be used for publicity and on programs as well as on t-shirts that will be given to all high school music festival participants.

Admission to the music festival will be $5.00, and tickets will be sold in the lobby on the evening of the event, with all proceeds benefiting future honors music festivals. One ticket will admit audience members to both performances.

More than 200 students perform March 7