The Festivals of Music event held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at York University welcomed 150 musicians and singers from Newtown High School last week who had traveled to the area April 24 to 27 via a ten-hour bus trip, where the students performed in a North American high schools competition and took home First Place awards in all five categories they entered.
Competing in Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Gold Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble, Newtown earned an unprecedented “Superior” rating for all five groups by achieving a score of at least 90.
“Achieving a ‘Superior’ is not easy,” said NHS music instructor and Band Director Kurt Eckhardt. “I have had some excellent ensembles not attain this status. So, this is an amazing accomplishment and shouts loudly to our community what incredible kids we have.”
Newtown earned several individual honors as well, including junior Aiden Petershack receiving the Outstanding Soloist (vocal) award, junior Richie Sadlon receiving the Outstanding Soloist (instrumental) award, and senior Grace Clark earning the Outstanding Student Accompanist award.
Mr Eckhardt also said the event was judged by three prestigious Canadian adjudicators.
Chorus Director Jane Matson was thrilled not only with the music quality her students delivered, but also how they conducted themselves as NHS representatives.
“We could not be more proud of our students, both for their exceptional performances and the way in which they represented the school,” Ms Matson said.
Mr Eckhardt agreed, adding, “Our kids were great ambassadors of our school and community. When Toronto talks of Newtown, they will mention the wonderful, sweet, thoughtful, considerate group of kids who made absolutely beautiful music. Our kids represented our music department, school, town, and state and country at the highest level and we are proud of them.”
During the four-day trip, the students were also treated to a performance by the Toronto Symphony orchestra, attended a Toronto Blue Jay vs Boston Red Sox game, ate dinner at Medieval Times, and a saw Niagara Falls. NHS multiday band and chorus trips are 100 percent self-funded the teachers explained, paid for by the students and their families and hours of fundraising.
Newtowners will have an opportunity to hear these accomplished young musicians at the Night of Jazz at Newtown High School on May 8 at 7 pm. Admission is free to the public.