Bishop McCort Catholic High School

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Keystone and District Orchestra

Keystone took place January 19, 2018 at Somerset HS. Keystones is a one day festival for advanced string players to get together and play with others in District 4 & 6. It is up to the Director’s discretion as to who gets to attend. It is based on their skill and work ethic. It gives the students an opportunity to play in a string orchestra that is at a more advanced level than what we can offer in our schools. The following students participated in this festival: Jennifer Kist, Olivia Nicoloff and Helena Sroka – 9th graders and Lauren Mucciola – 7th grade. They arrive by 9AM and practice all day with breaks for snacks and meals and then perform a concert at 7PM that evening. There is a lot of preparation on their part so they will be able to perform all of the pieces in one day. It is a great experience for them and gives them a chance to meet other string students in our area and surrounding areas.

District Orchestra Festival took place February 8-10, 2018 at Bedford High School. District Orchestra is a full orchestra opportunity that most schools don’t have. This means that there are wind players and percussion as well as string players. It is up to the Director’s discretion who will attend this festival. It is an honor to attend this festival. It is extremely difficult music and requires the students to step out of their comfort zones and really reach beyond their ability to be able to perform this music. The music performed at these festivals is at the level of professional symphonies. Unlike Keystone, District Orchestra students have to audition for seats once they are at the festival. These auditions determine who will go on to Western Region Orchestra Festival in March 22-24, 2018 at Sharon High School in Sharon, PA.

Districts takes place over 2 ½ days. It is a grueling practice schedule. They arrive and immediately start practicing and then auditions take place throughout the afternoon and evening. They are able to go to the hotel usually around 9:30 if auditions are finished. The next day starts at 9 AM and goes until 9 PM. That is an extremely long time to play an instrument especially when most students have never experienced this amount of playing at one time. They do get breaks and meals, but it is very tiring
I am very proud of the 6 McCort students that attended District Orchestra Festival. They are: Tierney Diehl and Michael Glacken, both Seniors; Adam Papcunik and Tessia Robison, both Juniors; and Lauren Pursel and Meghan Smitherman, both Sophomores. They all worked extremely hard to get prepared for this Festival and I appreciate their commitment to this opportunity. I had one student, Meghan Smitherman, make it on to Western Region Orchestra Festival so she is preparing for that in March.

"I really appreciate the opportunity I have at McCort to work with such great students. They really go above and beyond all that is asked of them. I appreciate the school supporting them in their endeavors. I know all of the discipline and work ethic they have acquired from learning a musical instrument and participating in these Festivals will help them in what ever future plans they have planned for themselves. You don’t get anywhere without work ethic and perseverance and they have certainly learned these skills." 
-Mrs. Smitherman