The AOS Band Festival filled the LA Gym with music last Monday night. This view from the bleachers gives a sense of the scale of the performance, which included 260 student musicians from Lincoln Academy, Great Salt Bay School, Jefferson Village School, Bristol Consolidated School, Nobleboro School, and South Bristol School.

On Monday, March 17 Lincoln Academy welcomed young musicians from six schools to Academy Hill to celebrate Wind Ensemble music. This festival takes place every year, alternating between band and choral music. The AOS Festival is designed to inspire middle school musicians to continue their music education into high school and beyond, and is impressive for the numbers alone.

Over 700 people, including 260 musicians and more than 450 teachers and audience members crowded into the LA gym for the Monday evening performance by five different bands as well as the 260-piece Combined Festival Band. The Combined Festival band was made up of 42 flutes, 45 clarinets, 35 trumpets, 32 saxophones, 22 trombones, and a scattering of other instruments, with tempo set by 57 percussionists! Although the musicians and their teachers have been rehearsing the music in their individual schools for several months, the groups had less than 3 hours to rehearse together before their Monday night performance.

The AOS Music Festival was envisioned more than 12 years ago as an effort to bring together music education as a more cohesive K-12 program. In the words of LA Band teacher Liz Matta, “we were looking for a way to work as a K-12 music department, even if only one time a year, and we wanted a way to encourage our 8th graders to continue playing/singing when they became freshman. We wanted to create and function as a larger music community, with the AOS 93 kids learning from the LA kids, and the AOS 93 kids feeling comfortable on the Lincoln campus and within the music program. We created this festival to be that extra step that would encourage all students to continue with music in high school.”

In addition to the benefit for the middle school students, the AOS Music Festival also benefits the LA musicians, who serve as mentors for the younger students. “I believe the LA music programs benefit from this yearly event, says Ms. Matta. “The experience younger students have during that festival allows them to feel a connection to LA they may not otherwise feel.  The opportunity for the LA students to “give back” to the community during an event like that is invaluable to our core belief that being a good person and reaching out to others is the most important skill of any that we can teach.”

Anyone interested in hearing student musicians play Jazz in a smaller venue should attend Lincoln Academy’s upcoming Jazz Concert and Dessert Auction on Friday, April 3 at 7:30pm in the LA Dining Commons. “This is a great fundraiser for us,” says Ms. Matta. It’s a chance to combine two of my favorite things: jazz music, and great desserts!”