Now in its fifth year, Band Fest at Huntington High School is just as popular as ever. About 185 student-musicians spread across grades 4-12 turned out for the daylong event. District music teachers volunteered to work with the participants, who displayed enthusiasm as they honed their craft, rehearsed and performed.
The 9 a.m. kickoff featured a performance by the high school jazz ensemble directed by Jason Giachetti. Band Fest participants sat in the audience and were amazed by the talents of the high school jazz musicians. When the ensemble finished, the younger students gave the group a hearty round of applause.
Decked out in their Band Fest t-shirts, the student-musicians looked sharp and sounded even better. The group was organized based upon instrument played into sectional rehearsals.
Fourth grade band director Mitch Malle taught the trombone/baritone sectional while J. Taylor Finley Middle School band director Chris Scarnato taught the horn/saxophone sectional.
Jessica Castaneda, another fourth grade band director handled the clarinet sectional and sixth grade band director Chelsea Jablon and District Director of Fine taught the flute sectional. Fifth grade band director Tara Adams guided students in the low brass/low woodwind sectional.
Huntington High School band director Brian Stellato (trumpet) and Mr. Giachetti (percussion) also taught during the sectional rehearsals. Finley music teacher Frank Battista pitched in throughout the day, too, handling administrative assistant responsibilities and serving as event photographer.
During the sectional rehearsals, the band directors were assisted by the Huntington High School wind and jazz ensemble members as they went about teaching Band Fest participants three brand new pieces of music.
“It was awe-inspiring for the band directors to watch the high school students teach their counterparts in grades 4-8 from across the district,” Ms. Jablon said. “The high school students not only taught notes and rhythms, but they were extremely eager to share their passion for the band program.
Mr. Stellato and several high school marching band members led the younger students in a “march-off” competition. Within an hour students learned a series of marching band commands and movements, which they needed to recall when directed.
“Anyone walking through the high school during game time could feel the building shake from the powerful pride in the voices of 190 students chanting “Go Blue,” Ms. Jablon said.
A pizza lunch followed the march-off. Coordinated by the Band Parent Association of Huntington, the lunch session allowed students to rest and socialize with one another. “The success of the band parents’ efficient efforts could be matched only by their sincere kindness throughout the day,” Ms. Jablon said.
Following lunch, the fifth annual edition of the Huntington Band Fest Festival Band came together on stage for a mass rehearsal. Student-musicians rehearsed the three new pieces professionally and diligently and with great camaraderie.
The high school wind ensemble sat among the festival band and played the new pieces beside them. The festival band had the opportunity to watch and listen in awe while the wind ensemble rehearsed their advanced repertoire. Many of the younger musicians could be seen fingering along, trying to catch some of the advanced notes as the older students played.
The high school auditorium was filled with enthusiastic parents, friends and family members for the culminating performance. The district music teachers who helped make it all possible were thrilled with this year’s Band Fest turnout and with the efforts of the participants.
“Band Fest was a fun opportunity to work with the younger kids in the district and be united by an interest in music,” sophomore Christiana DeLuca said. “I hope it will continue to grow in the future.”