Honors Music Festival takes stage Tuesday

The Scioto County Junior High Honors Band, High School Honors Band and Honors Choir are set to perform beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday during the 76th annual Scioto County Honors Music Festival at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the Shawnee State University campus in Portsmouth.

More than 200 local music students in 7th through 12th grades from Clay, East, Green, Minford, New Boston, Northwest, Oak Hill, Portsmouth, South Webster, Valley, West and Wheelersburg will perform in the music festival this year.

In past music festivals, the high school and junior high bands performed separately. This year, however, they will perform together in one larger concert. There are 61 members of the Scioto County Junior High Honors Band, 70 members of the Scioto County High School Honors Band, and 77 members of the Scioto County Honors Choir.

“We’ve had two group rehearsals so far, and the students are sounding great,” says Sharee Price, event coordinator from the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center in New Boston. “The teachers work hard with their students all year, and this event provides an opportunity for them to come together and learn from each other as well as from the guest conductors. It also provides a venue for students to share their talents with the community, and this year promises to be another exceptional concert.”

Andy Beck is the guest conductor for the high school honors choir. He is the director of choral publications at Alfred Music. A prolific composer and arranger, he has more than 450 popular choral works, vocal resources and children’s musicals currently in print. In recent years, he has been a commissioned composer and/or guest conductor for honor choirs of all ages, including all-state groups throughout the Southeast.

Kathleen McGrady is the guest conductor for the junior high honors band. She recently retired after 34 years of public school teaching, and 17 years of instrumental music with Springfield Local Schools in Holland, Ohio, where she was the director of bands from 1999-2015, and was responsible for instructing the sixth- through eight-grade bands, the “Blue Devil” Marching Band, and the high school symphonic band. An avid participant in OMEA competition, her high school and middle school bands consistently earn superior ratings at district and state adjudicated events. Additionally, she has served OMEA in numerous capacities, including district president, district secretary/treasurer, state secretary, co-chair of performances for the 2007 state conference, band chair for the 2012 state conference, and the All-State ensemble coordinator for the 2016 OMEA state conference.

Dr. Shelley Jagow is the guest conductor for the high school honors band. She is professor of music at Wright State University, director of the symphonic band and saxophone quartet, and professor of saxophone and music education. She has presented clinics and performances at several state music educators conferences, as well as the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, North American Saxophone Alliance, International Society for Music Education, College Music Symposium and the U.S. Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium. She has published numerous articles in periodicals, and is a contributing author to both The Music Director’s Cookbook and Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series.

“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.

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

Tickets for the festival are $7.00 each, and will be sold in the lobby on the evening of the event starting at 5:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit future honors music festivals.

Sponsors for the Music Festival include Cass and Jamie Benedict, DESCO Federal Credit Union, GE Aviation/Peebles Test Operation, Rosalee Greene, Dr. Michael Martin, Richard D. Marting Foundation, Portsmouth Area Arts Council, Rotary Club of Portsmouth, Scioto Foundation, SOMC, StaBo Construction Limited and Dr. Wayne and Mrs. Saundra Wheeler.