24 band members invited to perform at The Whiting with other Mid Michigan ensembles

Lauren Koscielniak, Writer

Entering the stage under bright lights, the crowd of hundreds is barely seen, but can be heard like bees buzzing around the hall. The Flint Institute of Music offered local high school band and orchestra directors to nominate their top students for the chance to play at Flint’s Whiting Theatre, and 24 Fenton students were selected by band director Andrew Perkins.

“The students have a day of rehearsals and clinics and lessons,” Perkins said. “Then a big performance at The Whiting. It’s basically an invitational for Genesee County and Saginaw area [mid-Michigan] to send our top band and orchestra students to have a special day. Guest conductors, guest clinicians, it’s a really cool, fun day. It’s really hard work for the kids because they get to rehearse all day, but it’s a super cool opportunity; they only do it every other year.”

Other ensembles that played at the Flint Institute of Music showcased adults and teachers as well. There was a symphonic band of people from all around mid-Michigan who got to learn a new music piece and play with different conductors.

“I played percussion with the orchestra,” freshman Annie Hayes said. “All the other percussionists in the orchestra went to the Flint Institute of Music and they took lessons there. So it was me and about four to five other guys who played there, so they were used to it. They taught me a lot of things about technique for percussion. They taught me how to hit the timpani, how to hold the sticks differently for timpani, and how to read certain notation that I wasn’t sure about before.”

An opportunity jumped into the hands of numerous instrumental performers, an opportunity that only comes every other year. As a freshman or sophomore, there is a chance to be selected once again for the concert hosted in Flint.

“I enjoy playing music so I thought it would be a fun opportunity,” sophomore Noah Maier said. “Everyone finds something they like to do and one of mine is music. It was a lot of fun, we got to meet other musicians from around the area and read new music with a different conductor. We got the music [for the performance] before hand so it was our job to look over it and prepare so we could be ready to perfect it at the event. It is harder because a lot less rehearsal time was put intangible for a normal concert but it was still a great time. Overall it was a great experience.”

Just about a month before concert day, students received the music they were performing with. Preparation may have been difficult, as Perkins explained, but the opportunity for students to attend is often only once.

“My favorite part of the day was our first rehearsal with our concert conductor,” senior Kourtney McQuarters said. “He is the conductor of the Flint Symphony Orchestra and was just a really nice and funny person to meet and at the end of the rehearsal we got to ask him questions. It was just really motivational hearing him speak about music because you could just feel the passion he had for music from his words and it inspired me to work harder and try to play better. The entire day exceeded my expectations I had a lot of fun in rehearsals and during the concert with all the other musicians there. As a senior, it was definitely a memorable experience I’m glad I got to have before I graduate.”

On Jan 6, the performance occurred at The Whiting in Flint. Time and musical motivation students have put into the event has allowed them to have, as McQuarters mentioned, a memorable experience.