Students hit right notes at DODEA music fest

By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 16, 2016

Even the most talented musician can’t get every note right all of the time.

That was one of the lessons learned this week at the DODEA-Europe Honors Music Festival.

The annual weeklong event brings together some of the best high school instrumentalists and vocalists throughout the Department of Defense Education Activity school system in Europe.

This year, 147 of them — 79 in the choir and 68 in the band — rehearsed hours a day for the Thursday night concert.

The students were tutored by two professional conductors, the band by Peter Loel Boonshaft, professor of music and director of bands at Hofstra University, and the choir by Jo-Michael Scheibe, chair of the Thornton School of Music’s department of choral and sacred music at the University of Southern California.

The band rehearsed, among other things, an arrangement of “Sweet Land of Liberty,” by James Sochinski, John Philip Sousa’s “Manhattan Beach” and soaring “Mt. Everest” by Rossano Galante.

For the choir, the songs ranged from the classical “Der Gang zum Liebchen” by Johannes Brahms to Eric Whitacre’s “Little Birds” and the traditional “Shenandoah.”

Both conductors were taskmasters, interrupting the music to point out mistakes, missed notes or out-of-key voices.

When a band member missed a note, Boonshaft remarked “One cockroach ruins a beef stew. Don’t be the cockroach in this stew.”

But not all was bad. As the percussionists hit the right beats in the climax of “Mt. Everest,” he called it, “shockingly tasteful! I expected to look up (from the score) and see seasoned professionals.”

Tickets for the Thursday night concert are free, but must be reserved at goo.gl/KsQTEu.

If you can’t make it, the concert will be live-streamed at: sites.google.com/a/student.dodea.edu/honorsmusic/



Guest conductor Peter Loel Boonshaft directs the DODEA-Europe Honor Band through a rehearsal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The annual Honors Music Festival featured 147 musicians and vocalists from 19 DODEA-Europe high schools.

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