Albemarle Co. Schools Get High Marks at Orchestra, Chorus Festivals

March 23, 2010

The District XIII Orchestra Festival held March 12 at Burley Middle School showcased talented and dedicated musicians from seven Albemarle County Public Schools orchestras and ensembles, who received high ratings for exceptional musical performances.

The Virginia Band and Orchestra Director’s Association oversees the district festival and grades all the music. The grading system is based on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being superior and 5 being poor. Music is graded on a scale of 1-6; grade 1 indicates beginning works and grade 6 includes the most challenging music available for high school ensembles.

The Albemarle High Concert Orchestra and the Albemarle String Ensemble each earned straight Superior ratings from all judges. They performed music at a level of grade 4 and original orchestral works at a level of grade 6.

Burley Middle School’s 7th grade Strings Ensemble received a rating of 2, or excellent, for their performance. This was Burley’s first performance at the District Orchestra Festival.

The Henley Middle School String Ensemble performed at Level III “for comments only.” The 13-member ensemble received positive remarks such as: “great enthusiasm,” “nice big vibrant sound,” “just outstanding” and “excellent stage presence.” Richard Baritaud is the director for the Henley Springs Program.

The Jouett-Sutherland Orchestra is comprised of 7th and 8th graders from both middle schools. Performing grade 3 music, they received straight superior ratings from all judges for the 5th consecutive year.

The Monticello High School String Ensemble received superior ratings, performing music at the level of grade 3.

The up-and-coming Walton Middle School Orchestra played Grade level 1 music “for comments only,” meaning the school is not officially judged. This 9-member ensemble received praise for their “good stage presence and repertoire,” “nice look,” “good discipline,” and “awesome posture.”

Meanwhile, the Albemarle High School choirs – Patriot Singers, Take Note! Vocal Jazz, and the Advanced Women’s Ensemble – each received the highest rating of “1” or “superior” from all judges at the District XIII Chorus Festival, held March 20 at Orange County High School. Choral groups from throughout the district competed before a panel of distinguished judges and were rated for their performance on a scale from “1” or “superior” to “5” or “poor.”

The superior rating earned by the Patriot Singers, combined with superior ratings from the AHS String Ensemble (received March 13 at District Orchestra Festival) and the Wind Ensemble (received March 6 at District Band Festival) makes Albemarle High School a Virginia Music Educators’ Association Blue Ribbon School for the third consecutive year. To be considered for the Blue Ribbon Award, the top performing band, orchestra and choir ensembles must perform two pieces from approved graded music lists and receive superior ratings at their respective district festivals. Only about 10 percent of schools in Virginia achieve this honor each year. Albemarle High School has been named a Blue Ribbon School in 2001, 2006, 2008, 2009 and now 2010.

Monticello High School’s Advanced Women’s Chorus and Vocal Jazz Ensemble also participated and received “superior“ ratings.

Jackson P. Burley Middle School SAB ensemble received two “superior” and one “excellent” ratings for an overall “superior” rating. The Young Women’s Chorus received straight “superior” ratings from all three judges.

Baker-Butler Elementary School choir received 1’s from all three judges and an overall superior rating as well.

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