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All-County musicians perform on Saturday

MAYVILLE — February has long been a busy month for the music educators of Chautauqua County. Two county-wide events take place during this blustery month: CCMTA Solo Festival, and the CCMTA Winter All-County Festival. Both are sponsored by the Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association and rely for their success on not only the organization of the music educators from the 19 schools districts in Chautauqua County, but also the dedication, hard work and talent of thousands of school aged music students throughout this corner of the state.

The Chautauqua Lake Central School Auditorium will be the site of the 2024 Winter All-County Festival and Concert. Taking place on Saturday at 5 p.m., this event features the county’s best student musicians from the school districts located in Chautauqua County, in one of several music ensembles. Featured in this festival are the Elementary Band, Junior Orchestra, Brass Ensemble, and All-County Jazz Ensemble.

Tickets will be available at the door for $5 and can also be purchased in advance at any time through ccmta.ticketleap.com/ccmta-all-county-winter-festival-2023/

The first group on the concert program will be the All-County Elementary Band, chaired by Mary Brock (Dunkirk City Schools). The director for the program will be James Chwalyk, Jr., who serves as the Director of Education for New Jersey DeMolay and an instrumental music teacher in the Lyndhurst Public School District. Chwalyk graduated from Montclair State University and has served as Music Director, Treasurer and Business Manager of the Charles Seller Foundation, a non-profit charity musical theater group based in Bloomfield, NJ. He currently serves as the music director for C.A.S.T. (Community Actors Student Theater) in Kenilworth, NJ. He is a freelance performer on trombone, euphonium, and keyboards in the greater Northern NJ/NYC area and continues to compose as a member of ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).He leads “The Hi-Res Quartet,” a small jazz group of freelance performers from northern New Jersey.

The All-County Junior Orchestra, chaired by Kristen Terreri (Fredonia CS), will perform next under the baton of Alissa Lorio. Lorio is in her 23rd year of teaching middle school and high school strings in the East Aurora school district. She received her Bachelors in Music Education from Ithaca College and Masters degree from the University at Buffalo. Alissa plays violin with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra and Clarence Summer Orchestra. She currently serves on the boards of the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra, Roycroft Chamber Music Festival and Southtowns Youth Orchestra. Alissa also teaches part time at the Buffalo Suzuki Strings school, where she coaches chamber music and conducts the summer orchestra.

Mark Lentsch (Jamestown Public Schools) will chair and conduct the All-County Brass Ensemble. Christopher Hotaling will lead the group. As an active pedagogue, clinician, and performer, Hotaling employs elements from his background in vocal performance in his approach to teaching and playing all low brass instruments. He believes strongly in the importance of lyrical, songlike playing as a means of promoting growth in his students, and he enjoys incorporating vocal repertoire in lessons and performances. In 2020, he was invited to the Northeast Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference to present a lecture entitled Accessing the Vocal Repertoire and its Pedagogical Benefits, and gave a lecture titled Doubling: Resources & Techniques for Teaching and Learning at the 2020 Virtual Trombone Workshop.

His current appointment is Adjunct Professor of Tuba at SUNY Fredonia’s School of Music.

The last group of the concert will be the All-County Instrumental Jazz Ensemble, chaired by Jay Hagen (Forestville CS), and conducted by Mark Filsinger. Filsinger is a versatile trumpet performer, composer, arranger, and clinician. Based in Buffalo, Filsinger has performed and toured around the United States with various jazz, classical, and commercial ensembles including Bright Eyes, The Who, Weird Al Yankovic, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Johnny Mathis, the Beach Boys, and The Temptations.

The organization for this festival begins nearly ten months prior to the program. Each student is selected first by their school’s music teacher. That list is pared down by the CCMTA chair people, who then select the students (in some cases by audition, teacher recommendation, or through a score received by playing a solo for a New York State-certified music adjudicator) who make the final roster for each group.

The duties of each chairperson include finding the guest conductor to lead the group, compiling and disseminating music to each of the students selected for the ensemble, and organizing any rehearsals prior to the day of the festival. The chairperson’s final act is to introduce the guest conductor. It then becomes the students’ moment to shine, showcasing their hard work and talent to an enthusiastic audience of over 500.

The concert itself lasts under two hours, but the time and preparation that go into the festival far exceed that moment in time on stage. Students begin rehearsing their music with their teacher as soon as they receive it

sometime in early December from their Chairperson. They may then be required to attend one or two additional rehearsals throughout the months of January and February.

On the day of the concert, these dedicated music students begin arriving at the school between 8 and 8:30 a.m., for a prompt 9 a.m. rehearsal start. The day continues with rehearsals, lunch, and a few small breaks in between, until 4:30 p.m. when the last students dress for the 5 p.m. concert start time.

In addition to the Winter All-County Festival, CCMTA:

— Provides scholarships to area music students to aid the student in continuing music education;

— Sponsors a Solo Evaluation Festival, where students prepare and play for a New York State-certified music adjudicator who in turn provides the student with valuable comments and tips on how to improve his or her musicianship; and

— Hosts a Spring All-County Music Festival each year featuring the Elementary, Junior, and Senior Choruses, and the Junior and Senior All-County Bands, and will be held at the Chautauqua Amphitheater on Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 pm.

For more information, visit www.ccmta.net or contact your school district’s music department. CCMTA can also be liked on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CCMTAmusic.

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