The annual showcase of musical talent in Lenoir County Public Schools is expanding by symphonic proportions this year, with high school students included for the first time in the All-County Chorus and a separate concert date added for the newly created All-County Band.
The All-County Band, a collection of 80 top middle school and high school musicians, debuts on Saturday. The concert, at the Kinston-Lenoir County Performing Arts Center, begins at 3 p.m.
“When you do All-County Chorus, you’re still leaving out a huge segment of students at the middle school and high school levels,” said Christy White, music educator at Banks Elementary School and chief organizer of the chorale concerts, now in their fourth year.
“You have students who, when they leave elementary school, choose to go into instrumental music instead of vocal music. We also want those students to have a chance to perform a higher caliber of music with visiting conductors and clinicians. We want to offer the same opportunities to instrumental performers as we do to vocal.”
The All-County Chorus has performed to a packed auditorium each spring for the past three years. For this year’s concert, scheduled for March 24, high school and middle school students will perform together and, as in years past, the older students will join the elementary students for a finale.
Saturday’s band concert will follow the format established in the chorus performances. The All-County Middle School Band and the All-County High School Band will each perform separately and then combine to close out the concert. In all, the bands will perform five pieces of what White calls “classical band music.”
As with the choral performance, admission to the band concert is free.
All four LCPS middle schools will be represented in the band of younger students, and musicians from North Lenoir and South Lenoir will form the high school band. Musicians from Kinston High School will be absent because the Viking band is appearing at a competition Saturday.
Charles Richberg, retired Kinston High School band director and music teacher, is guest conductor for the middle school group; and Perry Ditch, band director at White Oak High School, will lead the high school band.
The musicians have been practicing the concert pieces at their own schools and will come together Friday for their first joint rehearsal.
“We started looking at the music a couple of weeks ago,” North Lenoir band director Bailey Rose said. “Our goal is to just get the notes and rhythms down, to just get the basic stuff down, so when on Friday they go in there with the clinician they can work on the musical things – how to play as a group rather than as separate parts.”
North Lenoir will contribute about 23 musicians to the All-County High School Band. “It’s an honor,” Rose said of being selected. “I think being part of an all-county band means your director trusts in you to represent your school.”