More than 40 Lincoln Academy musicians participated in the Maine District Three Music Festival on Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27 at Cony High School in Augusta. The event included intensive rehearsals with guest conductors and culminated in a concert that featured performances by the Band, Treble Choir, and Mixed Choir. To qualify for the District Festival, musicians auditioned in October, and those who qualified practiced their music individually and with their teachers before the two-day festival began on Friday.
48 Lincoln Academy musicians qualified for the festival, though not all could attend due to conflicts. Choir director Beth Preston described the number as “fairly typical for the last few years, because we put the District and All State preparation into the curriculum” for both choir and band. She continued, “there’s an expectation that kids push to that level of performance and then attempt the audition process, which in itself is an amazing life skill. Putting yourself out there with just you and a judge is pretty nerve-wracking, but a similar experience to a college or job interview. Both [LA band director] Liz Matta and I have ways to help the kids with that process so as many of them are accepted as possible, and we try to help them work through the process if they are not accepted.”
The Festival itself is educational, as students learn difficult music, polish it as an ensemble, and perform it after about 12 hours of rehearsal. “No matter the quality of the school program, for students to spend two days playing in a group of the strongest 120 band students in the district is a special experience,” said LA band teacher Liz Matta. “Those kids play differently–more confident, and with better tones–when they get back.”
“I have really enjoyed the District Festival this year and in the past,” said junior Sam Russ, who was selected as first-chair tuba based on his high score during the audition, “and I think having multiple first-chair musicians from Lincoln this year really helped to add a new perspective on the whole process that we can bring back and apply at LA.”
“The entire District experience was very fun,” said sophomore Amelia Rosko, who sang with the All-District Treble Choir. “Mr. Waterberg, the treble choir director, was a wonderful, fun person, and he brought so much to the table.”
Beth Preston has been accompanying students to districts for a long time. “The first year I taught music at LA (both band and choir) I took all three District kids to the festival in my Volkswagen Golf,” remembers Beth Preston. The music program has come a long way since then! We teach the audition pieces as part of our classes. Because all the choir kids are on the same page learning the Italian Art Song, the tone and musicianship improves exponentially during the first few weeks of September. We also work really hard on sight singing. This is particularly hard for choir kids who haven’t learned to play and instrument. We’re very proud of the kids’ commitment to the process.”