Region’s best high school musicians hit the right notes in State College

bmilazzo@centredaily.comMarch 13, 2014 

  • IF YOU GO

    What: Pennsylvania Music Education Association Region III Band Festival concert

    When: 11 a.m. Saturday. Doors open at 10 a.m. Seating will begin at 10:30 a.m.

    Where: Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium.

    Admission: $5 for adults. $3 for students.

    Other: Parking is free at the Eisenhower parking deck, sponsored by the State College Music Boosters club.

The bassoon is a rare instrument.

So rare, in fact, the regional high school band concert Saturday at Penn State called for six bassoonists but only got three, said Paul Leskowicz, State College Area High School band director.

None are from Centre County.

While guest conductor Richard Bundy, the Penn State Blue Band director, stood among nearly 200 student musicians, the bassoons gave each note a unique sound.

The bassoonists were part of the Pennsylvania Music Education Association Region III Band Festival, which is being held in State College for the first time since 1992.

Leskowicz said 186 students were selected to attend the festival.

They come from 53 school districts in 11 counties, and they include students from each of the five Centre County school districts.

“These are some of the commonwealth’s brightest students that our culture will experience,” Leskowicz said.

When Leskowicz became band director three years ago, he made it a goal to host the festival.

“It was something I had my eye on,” he said. “Then about two years ago, I guess we had a shot and began preparations.”

He first consulted district administrators, found space in which to practice and partnered with Penn State, which provided performance space. Bundy was asked to be guest conductor.

“I think the kids are really embracing this because they’re able to perform with others they don’t normally get to play with and play at venues they wouldn’t otherwise,” Leskowicz said.

The practices also include tryouts for the All-State Band. State High junior Colleen McDonough, 16, who plays French horn is a front-runner for All-State Band.

McDonough said she has participated in other music festivals but called this one her favorite.

“It’s nice to get out here and meet new friends from other schools who you don’t get to play with,” McDonough said. “These are the most talented kids from our region and the end result is amazing because of that.”

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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