A tour de force of talent was on display at the All-County Arts Festival on March 26 at the West Union High School. This festival, held annually since its rejuvenation in 1984, showcased the amazing talents of local students in the creative and performing arts. The doors opened to the public at 6 p.m. with free admission, letting individuals examine the varied paintings and sculptures created by the students from across the county. The Adams County Arts Council graciously hosted this reception during the festival with refreshments of punch of cookies being served to the mingling crowds.
At 7 p.m. the stage of the cafetorium was lit up to prepare for the concerts. Technical issues delayed the event, but the wait was worth it, as the standing-room only crowd would attest. Carl Schneider introduced the All-County Band and the Guest Band Conductor, Kyle Harrop, who is the brother of West Union Varsity Coach Trent Harrop. Mr. Harrop has been involved in music from a very young age and served as the band director at Carroll High School in Dayton, Ohio, Douglas County Schools in Georgia, and Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis.
The band consisted of 48 students from Manchester, North Adams, Peebles, and West Union High Schools playing the flute, oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion. They opened their performance with Highlights from Harry Potter, a collection of the themes from the movies’ soundtracks interwoven together, so one song would transition to another. This was followed by the Newcastle March and Swashbuckler’s March, which were much peppier with their military band sound. The performance ended with Shaker Variants, a classic piece that most would recognize if they heard it.
The stage was then opened to Eli Bedel for his recitation of his winning poem “My Song,” which conveyed a story of an individual who, while unable to achieve the idealized goals they desire, will strive nonetheless, which in itself is the idealized goal. Jeremy Hill was then invited to the stage to recite his winning poem “Fille Silencieuse” (Quiet Girl), which focused on a woman who was unknowingly tempting the narrator from afar. Ryan Toney and Marissa Evans won the Short Story categories; however, due to the length of their works, they did not get to recite their winning pieces, “Retribution in Fallum” and “The Story of Chaos.” Copies of all of the poems and stories were available in a packet for audience members to take.
Mr. Schneider introduced Christopher Dent, the Guest Choir Conductor, and Accompanist Nancy Schneider. Mr. Dent serves as conductor of the University Chorus at the Ohio State University-Marion campus and is involved in or has conducted many church and professional singers and choirs. He is a high school graduate of North Adams High School and participated in the All-County Arts Festival as a student.The All-County Choir started by surrounding the audience in a circle and starting to sing Louez Ie Seigneur - a song sung by women in the Cameroon as they processed into church. While singing the students started walking onto the stage, making their way across the risers. The audience was then treated to a selection of wonderful choir music, including God is Our Refuge by Mozart, who wrote it at the age of nine; Amazing Grace; The Awakening; and ending with Ride the Chariot.
Band and choir students from all four high schools practiced with their individual instructors: Kevin Sucher, MHS; Matt Williams, NAHS; Brian Meyer, PHS; Carl Schneider, WUHS band and Beth Huntley, WUHS choir. The students assembled and practiced as a group with the guest conductors for less than two days total time, which is extraordinary, considering how in sync the groups appeared to be, and further illustrates how talented the students involved are.
Prior to the start of the Band Concert, Manchester Local School District Superintendent Craig Hockenberry and Adams County Ohio Valley Superintendent Rodney Wallace welcomed all in attendance, emphasizing the mutual goal of providing opportunities for students to develop their musical, artistic, and creative writing skills. Mr. Jim McCoy presented the Joan Wittenmyer McCoy Art Awards and Rosemary Boden presented the Tim Lewis Fine Arts Scholarship. Jordan Master of North Adams High School won first place in the Joan Wittenmeyer McCoy Memorial Art scholarship. Avery Trotta of Manchester High School and Hunter Havens of Peebles High School won second and third places respectively. Courtney McCane of Peebles High School was awarded the Tim Lewis Fine Arts Scholarship.
Mr. Dent pointed out the importance of the arts before the choir sang their final song. “We are not purchasing lessons for our students. We’re not purachasing an education for our students. Our cars in the parking lot and even the sheet music I hold in my hand, those are purchases. But what we have here, this is an investment in our community. Music is a lifelong art, and I urge you to continue to invest in the arts in Adams County. There are wonderful musicians in these bands and there are wonderful artists showing their works in the gymnasium. Attend the events the hold around the county, and support and invest in these students.”
Manchester High School will have a music concert on April 28 at 7 p.m. and a musical on May 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. North Adams High School will have a variety show n April 25, a guitar show on May 13, and a band/choir concert on May 16. Peebles High School will be performing Seussical on May 9 - 11. West Union High School will hold the High School Choir and Band Concert on April 16, the Hoff Fundraiser on April 17, and Shrek the Musical on April 25 and 26 and May 2 and 3 at 7 p.m.
Paul Hannah can be reached at 937-544-2391.