County schools hosting district band this week

Talent from all over northwestern Pennsylvania is on its way to Warren County this week.

The Warren County School District high school instrumental music programs will collectively host the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 2 Band Festival.

“The PMEA band, orchestra, and chorus festivals take place each year in January and February,” Eisenhower High School band director Mark Napolitan said. “There are 12 district events across the state of Pennsylvania.”

“We belong to District 2 which includes Erie, Crawford, Elk, McKean, Potter, Cameron, Warren, and part of Mercer County,” he said. “There are 36 schools from across this region that are participating this year with approximately 160 students who will perform in Saturday’s concert. We have 14 students representing the four public school of Warren County.”

Those students will practice together for two days before the concert at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Warren Area High School.

“Marcia White (Warren Area High School), Sarah Korchak (Sheffield Area High School), Cindy Scheid (Youngsville High School), and myself are working together to host this year’s festival,” Napolitan said. “We received permission from the school district to put in a bid to host and PMEA District 2 accepted our bid.”

The events are good for the students and the programs.

“The PMEA festivals allow the best students from their respective schools to come together for a short amount of time to perform in a large group setting,” Napolitan said. “Many of the students in District 2 come from smaller band programs and would never get the opportunity to experience rehearsing and performing with over 150 students. Nor do many get to experience performing standard and contemporary band literature that is a higher level with full instrumentation as the music was written to be performed. Each year my students are able to then share their experience and the high expectations with their peers helping to enrich my program. “

District band festivals have been held in the county twice in the last eight years.

“Cindy Scheid hosted district band at Youngsville in 2014,” Napolitan said. “Harris Lanzel, retired band director from Eisenhower, was the guest conductor.”

“I hosted district orchestra with Don Lyle and Cindy Scheid at Warren Area High School in 2010,” he said. “Bryan Eckenrode, director of the Warren Civic Orchestra, was the guest conductor.”

This festival’s guest conductor is Dr. Tad Greig, director of instrumental activities and profession of music in the School of Music at Westminster College.

Each of the county’s band directors participated in PMEA festivals, or the equivalents in other states, as students, Napolitan said. “I still remember the band festivals I participated in when I was a student at Sheffield. The people I met, the directors who were there and some are still teaching and now are peers, as well as the wonderful musical experiences, all of these still influence me today.”

“Many if not all of the students who will be attending will share these same experiences,” he said. “Some of them will eventually enter into music education and become peers with me.”

“The tradition of excellence in music education is a continual cycle that we hand down generation to generation,” Napolitan said. “I hope that cycle is never broken. We, the band directors and music teachers of Warren County, are honored to be a part of this cycle and as hosts hope to share the same wonderful experiences with these students that we had as students participating in these festivals.”