Festivals, Festivals, Festivals!


Bradie Harris, Staff Writer

Over the course of the 2017-18 school year at Bellows Falls Union High School, many awards and great achievements have been bestowed upon the High School community. Some of those achievements include many sports titles, outstanding scores from the Math Team and Envirothon competitors, and the list of achievements goes on and on. On the arts side of the building, the drama department captivated audiences in both the fall play and spring musical, and almost 20 awards were presented to advanced art students who participated in the BF Women’s club art show. In the music departments most recently, both the BF band and chorus brought home first place trophies at the 2018 Music in the Parks Festival with the rating of Excellent. But looking at the people who make up the band and chorus, many of the team players also shine on an individual scale.

Back in March, two BFUHS musicians auditioned and were accepted into the prestigious New England Concert Band. Those students were Clay Thompson (percussion) and Bradie Harris (clarinet). The New England Music Festival Association, commonly referred to as NEMFA is one of the top and most prestigious festivals to get into for a high school student in our area. In December, students had to audition with a solo and ensemble audition. During the audition, the player is in a room with 1-3 other judges and is given the space to perform a solo piece selected from a previous approved list. The player has the option to bring an accompanist with them, and many did. But from BF, neither musician brought accompaniment and both Thompson and Harris were accepted. Representing Bellows Falls the two musicians travelled to Connecticut where they were placed with homestay families and followed a grueling rehearsal schedule for three days until the final concert. Both BF musicians performed exceptionally and said they were sure to audition again next year.

More recently, in early May, a handful of BF musicians travelled up to Essex, Vermont where the 2018 Vermont Allstate music festival was held. Lorelli Jones (voice), Bradie Harris (clarinet), Emily Wunderle (alto sax), Courtney Fredriksen (trumpet), and Ian Wallace (trombone), represented BFUHS and brought along their purple pride. With another three day rehearsal, the festival offered a very different perspective for the Band students under direction of a native New Yorker, Dr. Boonshaft. Many described him as tense, terrifying, but very musically inclined. The band members followed a strict rule of no talking whatsoever throughout the almost full 24 hours of rehearsal. At the end of it all, the members of both band and chorus performed a fantastic program that left the audience standing for many minutes following the end of songs. Both the band and chorus received many standing ovations, and many of the BF musicians look forward to auditioning again next year.