Now in its sixth year, Band Fest at Huntington High School is more popular than ever. About 200 young musicians spread across grades 4-12 participated in the event last Saturday District music teachers volunteered their expertise, working who the students, who enthusiastically sharpened their skills, rehearsed and later 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 spectacular and sounded even better. The group was organized for sectional rehearsals based upon the instrument each of them played.
Department Director Eric Reynolds taught the trombone/baritone sectional while J. Taylor Finley Middle School band director Chris Scarnato led the horn/saxophone sectional.
Fourth grade band director Katherine Adams handled the clarinet sectional and sixth grade band director Chelsea Jablon taught the flute sectional. Mitch Malle, another fourth grade band director guided students in the low brass/low woodwind sectional.
Huntington High School band director Brian Stellato taught the trumpet sectional and Mr. Giachetti and Finley band director Frank Battista worked with the percussionists.
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 the Finley, Woodhull and primary grade level musicians. The high school students went beyond merely teaching notes and rhythms; they were genuinely 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 the students had 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 200 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 sixth 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 noticeable camaraderie.
The high school wind ensemble sat among the festival band and played the new pieces beside them. The festival band had an 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 is special to me because it’s the only time of the year when Huntington kids from all grade levels get together for the sake of making music,” junior Christiana DeLuca said.