Radford University festival draws top high school musicians
Talented high school music students from across the region will come to Radford University this week for the opportunity to perform at the college level.
The sixth-annual Tri-State Honors Chamber Wind Festival, which runs Thursday, Nov. 29, through Saturday, Dec. 1, will feature 53 young musicians from Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina who will be assigned to small groups based on their instrument and level of ability. This approach is unusual for “honors band” events, which typically place all performers in a single, large ensemble.
Associate Professor R. Wayne Gallops, director of bands in RU’s Department of Music and the festival’s coordinator, works to ensure that the event offers students a personal, one-of-a-kind experience. “This is unique because of the level of intimacy,” Gallops said. “These students are placed in small quartets and quintets, and they are given a lot of individual attention from the faculty.”
In addition to performing with their groups, participants will attend performances by the Radford University Wind Ensemble, the Concert Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Winds. Faculty members will host master classes for individual instruments.
The festival is a key outreach and recruiting tool for the Department of Music. The attendees typically are among the top students in their schools. The friendly, intimate atmosphere of the event allows music faculty to show off RU programs, Gallops said.
Festival attendees tend to walk away impressed. As many as 15 percent of festival attendees enroll to study music at Radford, Gallops said.
To demonstrate the level of play expected at Radford, festival participants are joined in their ensembles by RU music students who act as chaperones, mentors and coaches.
Tim Shell, an RU junior majoring in music business, attended the festival during his junior and senior years of high school. He continues to participate as a coach. “I was in it during its second year when it was still a young idea,” he said. “I wanted to participate and help make it better.”
Shell remembers the personal attention given to participants by the faculty. When he attended during his senior year, Gallops took him aside for a conversation about what Radford can offer. “He told me about the music business program, which is what I was interested in,” Shell said. “It was a big deciding factor for me.”
The Tri-State Chamber Wind Festival will continue to be a centerpiece in the Department of Music’s recruitment programs, but organizers and participants believe it will also become a premier event for young musicians.
“I think we’ll be known at Radford for this,” Shell said. “All the high schools from these states will want to send their top players.”
– Submitted by Dan Waidelich
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