56th Annual Eastern Regionals Festival

Eastern Regionals Orchestra rehearsing before the concert.

Eastern Regionals Orchestra rehearsing before the concert.

On Friday, January 4th and Saturday, January 5th, the Connecticut Music Educators’ Association (CMEA) held its annual Eastern Regionals Festival at E.O. Smith High School and the University of Connecticut. This music festival is audition only, and auditions were held two months prior to the actual concert and rehearsals. Auditions were held on Saturday, November 10th of 2018 at E.O Smith High School as well.

Students from forty different high schools in Connecticut auditioned for and participated in this festival. A good handful of students from SWHS auditioned, but only fourteen of them came out successfully and were able to participated in the festival at the beginning of January. This includes the two students that played in Band, Samantha Donovan and Jonathan Gordon. Seven students from Orchestra participated also: Anthony Chen, Gabe Galley, Lloxci Lopez, Alexa Shepardson, William Smith, Daniel Zhu, and  Jillian Thibodeau. There were four students in mixed choir, who were Micaela Hanson, Joshua Lee, Marshall Nielsen, and Jessica Vieira. And the last student, Leah Cunha, sang with the Eastern Regionals’ Treble Choir.

The fourteen people who made it exceeded the amount of points that were needed in order to be a part of the festival. However, this was not the end of the musicians’ preparation for the Regionals. The students’ music teacher at SWHS (Verrastro, Fausel, or Martineau) give them their music about a month and a half before the festival. Students were then required to practice and prepare for the concert on their own. 

Even though preparation for the festival is very important, the actual festival is the thing that the students involved look forward to the most.  The first day of the festival, which occured on Friday the 5th, was the day when all of the groups got together for the first time and rehearsed all of their pieces together. The students rehearsed from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm, had an hour set aside for dinner, and then went back to rehearsal at 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm. However, the second day was a bit different for each ensemble. Sometime throughout the day, each group had their dress rehearsal, rehearsal, and lunch. Lastly, the concert started at 1:00 pm with Jazz Band going on first. Following Jazz Band was Concert Band, then Mixed Choir, Treble Choir, and Orchestra.

Students involved in the festival had to stay and watch all of the groups perform, even if their ensemble went on at the beginning of the concert. When I asked people which performance was their favorite, many answered with Jazz Band. For example, Smith mentioned that, “It’s fun to watch someone nail a great solo in front of a hall of people.” To add onto Smith’s comment, Donovan said, “The improv they did is amazing.” Another group that was a favorite of South Windsor High School Students was the Eastern Regionals Orchestra. Gordon simply stated that, “Orchestra did an amazing job.” Another student, Lopez, who was in the Orchestra elaborated on Gordon’s words by saying, “An important aspect was that it was an ensemble that had both traditional band and traditional orchestra instruments. It was a moment where everyone could see so many types of instruments together playing one song cohesively.” But these groups were not the only ones to perform well at the concert, and Hansen says that, “I liked how everything came together in such a short time together.”

Overall, it is safe to say that students had a great time at regionals. With playing with and meeting new people to playing challenging pieces, most can agree that it was a lot of fun. Lopez even mentioned that she “made many new friends including my own stand partner.” To conclude, Smith said that, “Knowing that everyone there is there for the same reason I am is pretty cool.” With this is mind, many students at South Windsor High School had an excellent experience at Regionals and are very excited to have the chance to audition for it again next year. Up next for those who participated in regionals are All-State Auditions that will be held on February 2nd, 2019.