Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Berlin: Middle School/High School Hosts County-Wide Student Music Festival

Pictured is the Rensselaer County School Music Association senior chorus. Photo provided.

Berlin Middle School/High School recently hosted the Rensselaer County School Music Association (RCSMA) All-County Ensemble Festival with four musical performances composed of select ensembles from 14 school districts within the county.

This festival’s program featured an elementary chorus, a senior chorus, a jazz ensemble and a junior band. Each ensemble also featured renowned local conductors, including: Katie Gardiner, elementary chorus; Christina Pizzino-Catalano, senior chorus; Brian Carucci, jazz ensemble; and Michael Graves, junior band.

Ensembles are made up of the local districts' most outstanding and committed student musicians, with the intent that they will bring the music ensemble lessons they have learned back to their schools to positively influence their own district-wide music program.

Students enjoy working with peers from other schools and benefit from the expertise of their guest conductors.

“I really enjoyed working with our conductor Michael Graves, as well as with all the other students,” said Brett Harris, a  tenor sax player in the junior band. “He definitely pushed us to our full extent, and we worked together like a well-oiled machine.”

The RCSMA holds two ensemble festivals a year and a scholarship festival in the spring. The participating districts take turns hosting the event. According to Berlin High School Choral Director Leslie Eliashuk, hosting allows a district to showcase its facilities and gives a chance for the whole school to be involved.

“It’s good for bigger school districts to be able to come to Berlin to see what we bring to the event,” she said. “We use the entire school, from our food service to student tour guides. Even our student musicians not selected for the event participate through ensemble assistance and light operation – it’s a community effort.”

The next festival will be held Feb. 1 at Troy Enlarged City School District, featuring the county’s junior choir, elementary band, jazz choir and senior high band.

 --Jennie Grey

--Please note my new contact information below--

Education reporter
The Saratogian and The Record newspapers
20 Lake Ave.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Office: 518-290-3898
Work cell: 518-222-2109

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