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CHS wind ensembles perform at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall

The CHS Symphonic Band performs at the 2014 Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival in Chicago.

Spring Break 2014 provided a different experience for members of Cuthbertson High School’s concert ensemble bands.

Selected to participate in the 2014 Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival in Chicago, the Cuthbertson Symphonic Band and Cuthbertson Blue Note Winds were two of four ensembles featured for this prestigious annual event held at historic Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

In a Saturday matinee performance, each invited ensemble performed at least one composition by Percy Aldridge Grainger, with the Symphonic Band performing Australian Up-Country Time and Blue Note Winds performing Molly on the Shore.

A particular highlight for the Blue Note Winds included a finale featuring John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, which received a standing ovation by members of the audience at Orchestra Hall.

“Performing on a stage of such high caliber was amazing,” said junior Justin Laramee, who performed a solo with the Blue Note Winds. “It was great to share the Cuthbertson’s bands’ capabilities with the people of Chicago.”

Prior to the festival performance, each invited ensemble was coached by featured clinician Col. Arnald Gabriel, former commander and conductor for the U.S. Air Force Band, who is long recognized as a world-class conductor and instructor of music.

Col. Gabriel spent time listening to each piece the ensembles had prepared and critiqued key parts and techniques, providing instruction and recommendations to individual performers and bands as a whole.

“I am extremely proud of both ensembles,” said Band Director Todd Ebert. Noting that the Blue Note Winds had performed at the 2012 North Carolina Music Educators Convention for its first honor invitation after Cuthbertson High School opened in 2009, he congratulated the Symphonic Band, which is in its second year of existence, for its initial honor invitation in Chicago.

“The group has matured and—along with the Blue Note Winds—is demonstrating talent that allows them to perform at a level that is recognized.”

In addition to performing in one of the grandest venues in existence for performing wind band literature, the students enjoyed sightseeing and experiencing Chicago, including visiting the Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Willis Tower Sky Deck, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile.

Written by: Anne McManus and Susan Messina
Posted: May 16, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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