Mid-Winter Concert hits the right note

Item photo by Shea Singley More than 250 musicians took the stage at the Mid-Winter Concert.
Item photo by Shea Singley More than 250 musicians took the stage at the Mid-Winter Concert.

Music lovers were treated to a special performance on Friday night, Jan. 17, at Schuylkill Valley High School for the Mid-Winter Concert. Not only did the Schuylkill Valley High School band perform, but there were joined by Tulpehocken High School band, Oley Valley High School band and Fleetwood High School band.

“This started four years ago,” explained Kurt W. Schneiderhan, band director of the Schuylkill Valley High School band. “The Ringgold Band had a side by side concert with the Penn State Trombone Ensemble.” He went on to explain that Fleetwood did the same side by side concert with the Ringgold Band the year after while Schuylkill Valley had a concert with Twin Valley. Last year, Schuylkill Valley held the program with Wyomissing, Daniel Boone and an acapella group from Drexel University.

“This year, I thought well this had turned out to be a really nice event and it was something to fill in the doldrums a little, thought it puts the pressure on a few weeks after a holiday program. But pressure’s good. So I put feelers out in the fall and was so thrilled that they all said, ‘Yes,’” said Schneiderhan.

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Schuylkill Valley began the program during which each band played a few selections and all of the musicians took the stage at the end to perform four selections, each picked by a director, for a grand finale. The Schuylkill Valley band performed “Ascend,” “Carole of the Shepherds” and “American Hymn Tune Sketches.”

“One of the things I like about this program is we get to play for people we don’t usually get to play for,” said Schneiderhan. “We’re glad we get to play a concert that features all of our musicians together and sharing with each other.”

As bands exited and entered the stage, the directors were instructed to “talk as long as needed” during which they spoke about their programs and complimented the young musicians as well as fellow directors.

Tulpehocken was the second band to perform under the direction of Dustin Shirk, who is a Schuylkill Valley High School alum.

“I’d like to thank Mr. Schneiderhan for the opportunity for our band and myself to come and play for you folks,” said Shirk. “It’s really nice for all of our students to come and listen to these other guys. It’s nice to collaborate with some of the other districts.”

Shrik also joked about Tulpehocken’s football team being undefeated and spoke of attempting to do drill (marching band formations) on a soccer field after taking the students to a band festival where they had the chance to see different drills.

Tulpehocken performed “Country Cookin’ Christmas” and “Adventum.”

Oley Valley took the stage next under the direction of Mark Brumbach.

“The camaraderie we have and just to see these kids working with other kids is priceless,” said Brumbach. “I’m sure you’re going to hear from your kids when they come home tonight what a wonderful time they’ve had meeting new people, making new friends and just making music with others.”

Oley Valley performed “Shalom” and “Emmanuel Variants.”

“With all these directors tonight, you are so lucky to have them in your districts,” said Brumbach. “They’re fantastic musicians and even better people. I hope we can do this for many years to come.”

As Oley Valley exited the stage and Fleetwood came on, director Charles Ebersole took the time to speak about the program at Fleetwood and how lucky they are that the district allows the band and choir department to schedule rehearsals the way that they do. He also spoke of the ties between the directors, many of whom have known each other for years.

Fleetwood performed “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “Salvations is Created” and “The Peacemaker March.”

It was then time for all the musicians, more than 250 to take the stage and perform “Shenandoah,” “Shoutin’ Liza Trombone,” “Battle Pavanne” and “Dragon Boat Festival” together for the grand finale.

The musicians had a very short time to work on the combined pieces together, but from the audience response, they were well prepared.

After much applause and talent, the night came to end. All four schools showcased their skills to both familiar and new audience members. The music departments at Schuylkill Valley, Tulpehocken, Oley Valley and Fleetwood have many upcoming events. To see upcoming events at the schools, please visit the district sites.

See performances from all of the bands on The Item’s Tout site www.tout.com/u/hamburgitem and follow The Item on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hamburgitem.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.