Williamsport’s PMEA District Orchestra festival

The Williamsport Area High School Orchestra recently hosted the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Concert for District 8 Orchestra.

“I’m very thankful for my supportive colleagues, the helpful students and everybody from the cafeteria staff to the custodians,” said orchestra director Matthew Radspinner. “We all hosted PMEA.”

The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association is a non-profit organization that promotes musical growth in state residents. Many musicians, from all ages, are involved in this organization that has many festivals ranging from band festivals to choir festivals. For this festival specifically the musicians competed through auditions to retain a seat in the District Orchestra.

If a musician advances from the District Orchestra, they move on to Regional Orchestra, then possibly State Orchestra. The musicians in the District 8 Orchestra, who were from approximately 20 different schools throughout District 8, traveled to Williamsport where they stayed at the Genetti Hotel for the entirety of the festival. The musicians auditioned in front of judges for their seat placement and then spent two days rehearsing for the concert.

“The two days of practice were tedious,” explained violist Vanessa Streit. “But I had a lot of fun experiencing the music-making process and meeting so many new and different people.”

The concert was directed by David Tedford, orchestra director at Bloomsburg University. The musicians performed Marche Slave, Op. 31 composed by Tchaikovsky, Danzon No. 2 composed by Marquez, and several other pieces.

Nine Williamsport Area High School students will be advancing from District Orchestra to Regional Orchestra this year. Michael Fisher, who also was named concert master, will be advancing on violin 1, Naomi Rintelman and Noelani O’Connell on violin 2, Lenora Ciabattari and Megan Wike on viola, Liam Ferry and JR Confair on cello, and Ty Baker and Ben Byham on double bass. Ty Baker and Lenora Ciabattari were also named principal double bass and viola for District 8.

“My PMEA experience was incredible and loads of fun,” said O’Connell. “I’m pretty nervous about advancing to Regional Orchestra, but excited and ready to work hard to prepare for it!”