50 WAHS students to attend PMEA conference in Hershey

Williamsport Area High School orchestra teacher Matt Radspinner will be taking 50 of his Sinfonietta students to the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s (PMEA) annual in-service conference in a unique, district-first situation.

“This is the first curricular orchestra group to go to the state convention,” Radspinner explained, adding that typically extra-curricular or orchestra sub-groups, such as the Strolling Strings, attend such state functions. “This time, it’s just my regular eighth-period class, or Sinfonietta, that will be going.”

Upon submitting recordings of last year’s concerts to PMEA, the WAHS group became one of 30 groups selected from a pool of 200. They’ll be performing a full 40-minute concert beginning at 3:45 p.m. Friday at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey.

The high school’s program will blend in some local flavor, as it’s set to include a “Tango,” arranged by Geraldo Edelstein, director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, and “Concerto Grosso,” featuring Lycoming College piano instructor Amanda Gunderson.

“I am very proud of the work that we are doing and the opportunities that we receive at Williamsport,” said junior Emma Radulski. “Sinfonietta is a mature classroom environment where we all respect and support each other. Being in Sinfonietta is one of the best and most rewarding experiences I have had in high school. I’m really excited to represent Williamsport at the state level.”

Senior Genevieve Beatty believes that orchestra is the ultimate expression of community and is an important tool in teaching people how to live as citizens.

“Where else can so many people with different perspectives, preferences and attitudes come together to create something beautiful?” she said. “Music is magic, and I am honored to be making it here.”

Radspinner said his class works hard every day, in all three of his curricular orchestras, to grow as individuals and as an ensemble.

“I am so pleased that we are being recognized for all of our hard work and our commitment as a department, school district and community to incorporating arts education into the education of all of our students,” he said.