FORT MILL — The Fort Mill High School Wind Symphony recently performed on the featured stage as part of the 2014 Music for All National Concert Festival at Butler University in Indianapolis.
Out of 150 applicants, it was one of 16 high school concert bands from across the country picked.
“Being selected as a featured ensemble at the National Concert Festival is one of the highest honors a high school concert band can achieve,” said Chad Pence, FMHS associate director of bands. “It has been a personal goal of mine to expose our students to a broader audience and showcase our talent on a national stage. I was ecstatic and humbled by the invitation.”
The application process included a 12- to 20-minute unedited audio recording of the ensemble performing. The recording is judged on the ensemble’s technical proficiency musical expression and artistry.
Featured groups performed a 40-minute concert, followed by a one-on-one evaluation session with a clinician. Anthony Maiello, director of bands at George Mason University and a leading professional in the field, led the clinic with the FMHS symphony.
“The students in the Fort Mill High School band did an outstanding job in their performance at the National Concert Band Music for All Festival. This venue is the best of the best and the students did excellent work,” he said.
Separate from the featured stage, the invited stage showcased bands not yet ready to apply for a featured spot. Invited groups played a 25- to 30-minute concert, followed by more extensive clinical time with evaluators and master classes.
Fort Mill students also attended performances by five other featured ensembles, as well as by the Jazz Band of America and the Honor Band of America.
The Honor Band of America, a concert ensemble of outstanding high school musicians, has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s finest student concert honor bands. FMHS senior clarinet player Bridget Luckiewas selected for this year’s Honor Band.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to play with the best musicians in the nation who performed at such a high level that I did not even know was possible as a high school student,” Luckie said.
In addition to this most recent honor, the FMHS Wind Symphony has also earned superior ratings at the National Adjudicators Invitational in Virginia and Georgia, as well as the Bands of America Concert Festival at Georgia Tech. The band has also been featured at the University of South Carolina.
Music for All is one of the largest and most influential music education nonprofit organizations in the nation. Its approach combines programming at a national level with arts education advocacy and the events draw huge audiences. Each year, more than 85,000 students participate and more than 300,000 people attend the events.
“After all the numerous hours of preparation, the opportunity to perform on a national stage in such a highly acclaimed event was so rewarding,” Luckie said. “The kind words as well as the critiques from the best band directors and conductors in the country will really help us take our band program to the next level.”