‘Music is like my medicine’
On Dec. 5 several students from Shelton Intermediate School auditioned for the Western Region Middle School Music Festival to be held in March at Western Connecticut State University.
Two students from the intermediate school were selected from among hundreds of the best middle school band students from all over the western region of Connecticut to participate in these all-star-like ensembles.
Karina Friend, an eighth grade flute player, was selected to be in the concert band, and Hanna Farag, an eighth grade alto saxophone player, was selected to be in the jazz ensemble. The two girls found out they were selected shortly after band class on Dec. 8 and were excited, to say the least.
“I couldn’t breathe,” said Friend smiling.
For the audition, the students had to learn and perform a solo piece for their instrument and do several memorized scales and sight-reading exercises — playing music they had never seen before, on the spot. Aside from the difficulty of auditioning, the number of students competing for each position made it more nerve-wracking, said Farag.
“I think they said there were around 300 kids auditioning, and for my spot they only take two,” said Farag. “I was really nervous. They pushed back my spot a little because they had missed someone and I was still fingering the notes just practicing without blowing any air through. The judges were really confusing because they don’t show any facial expressions, they’re just writing.”
After their audition, the two said, they felt as if a weight had been lifted from their shoulders.
“I couldn’t believe that I had just auditioned for Western Regionals,” said Farag. “I thought about doing it last year.”
According to Shelton Intermediate School’s band director, Mark Bilotta, this was one of the largest auditioning turnouts in years, and the auditions were highly competitive.
Both students said they have been playing musical instruments for years and were happy to see the work they put in pay off.
“It’s like medicine,” said Friend.
“When I’m upset, it’s my escape. It does get really stressful and at times I put too much on myself, but during a performance it really pays off,” said Farag.
Now that the ensembles have been chosen, the students will go back to Western Connecticut State University in March for two days of intensive rehearsals with prominent guest conductors and clinicians, culminating in a concert on the second day at the university.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, but if you really want it, you’ll get it,” said Friend.
“This is huge,” said Farag. “I can’t believe they chose me.”