AHS Hosts MPMEA for Band and Choir

Johnathon Michael Leon Guerrero-McInally
AHS' Flight performs in the BPAC for the 2018 MPMEA festival

Johnathon Leon Guerrero, Staff Reporter/Photographer

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Over the past couple weeks, schools from all around Washington State visited Arlington High School for the annual MPMEA festival.

In the performing arts, there are few opportunities to showcase a group’s talents apart from the occasional concert. If they want to compete and get a professional’s opinion on their abilities, they attend a festival. These events are gatherings for musical groups throughout the region to both listen to other schools and show off what they have been working on.  Afterward, they receive a clinic on what they can do to improve as a group. This year is an special year for the art department because the middle school band, high school band, and high school choir MPMEA (Mount Pilchuck Music Educators Association) festivals were all held at Arlington High School for the 2018 rotation.

Arlington’s own Jeff Swanson had the responsibility of putting together the choir showcase. The only other time the high-school choir festival was held at AHS was in 2016. Hosting 22 different choirs doesn’t come without its difficulties.”Two of the schools changed their schedules the night before, so I had to redo all of the programs and all of the paperwork,” said Swanson. He also said that fitting all of the performances into a single day proved challenging. However, the event ran smoothly as the day progressed. Both Aerie and Flight participated and earned average scores of 2 and 1- respectively (1 being the highest and 3 being the lowest).

On the band side of things, Haller Middle School’s band director Kathy Medema orchestrated the middle school day with the help of Jon Grabowski. Younger musicians were given the opportunity to both perform in the luxurious Byrnes Performing Arts Center and receive a professional clinic. Grabowski also had the pleasure of putting together the high school festival for the 10th year in a row. Even with the extra experience, he still had ran into some issues. As he explained it, “The biggest challenge was there were more directors this year than ever whose kids forgot gear, so we had to scramble around accommodating them.” However, he enjoys putting it all together for other schools, saying, “I love the fact that we get to host it in the most wonderful facility.” He would also like to thank the volunteers and parents that help make this event possible. “These are my favorite two days of the year and next year is gonna be even better,” Grabowski added.

Wind Ensemble earned the highest score in their division with a perfect score of 1 to kick off the first day of the band festival

Every year, well-known judges come from all over Washington to give personalized clinics for each of the bands and choirs. The organizers often turn to local universities and retired directors for adjudicators, as high school bands and choirs don’t often receive professional advice for their music. Timothy Fitzpatrick, the associate professor of choral music education from Western Washington University, provided advice for the choirs. University of Washington’s own band director Dr. Brad McDavid gave the wind ensemble advice on how to achieve a more robust sound in extreme registers.

Not only was this festival for musical groups, but it was also a chance for the public to listen to diverse groups from schools both near and far. Some classes got to spend a day listening to various bands and choirs. Mr. Stallons brought his Algebra II class to the BPAC to watch the wind ensemble give their performance.

All in all, MPMEA was a success. Because of the diligence of each organizer, the event ran smoothly. Arlington’s groups received respectable scores and advice for improvement, and people who aren’t typically exposed to concert music had the opportunity to listen to some.

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