Byrd bands perform Spring Concert, awards presented

The William Byrd High School Jazz, Concert, and Symphonic Bands presented their Spring Concert on May 3. Kayleigh Wyatt (left) received the Director’s Award for 2018; Rebecca Geisler (center) received the 2018 John Phillip Sousa Award; and Chris Spano received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for 2018.

The William Byrd High School bands held their annual Spring Concert on May 3, led by Dan Plybon, now in his 13th year as director. Three separate bands performed at the concert— jazz, concert, and symphonic.

The Jazz band performed three selections: “Treasure,” the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” and “Blues Be King!” Students featured in “Yesterday” were Courtney Cherry on alto sax and Ethan Bowser playing trumpet. Chris Spano was featured on guitar in “Blues Be King” with Ethan Bowser improvising on trumpet.

Plybon presented Spano the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for 2018 saying that he excels in the Jazz arts and as a student leader. The criteria for the award include “outstanding achievement, superior musicianship, and character.”

Jazz band members include:

  • Alto sax players: Sunyanna Anderson, Courtney Cherry, Makenzie Harris, and Cameron Strauss
  • Tenor sax: Diana Damian
  • Trombone: Dane Blackwood and Hannah Puckett
  • Trumpet: Ethan Bowser, Jasmine Crawford, Brian McCormack, and Katie Wheeler
  • Rhythm section: Jayden Glass, Christopher Spano, Natalie Ferguson, Samuel Caylor, and Emily Wheeler

The Concert Band performed a chorale led by student Jonathan Davis, the “Dorian Rhapsody” and “Spy Chase.” Plybon described “Dorian Rhapsody” as “absolute music”— a piece played “just for the sake of music,” which doesn’t tell a particular story. In contrast, “Spy Chase” was “program music” with a narrative, reminiscent of spy thrillers with espionage, secret agents, romance, and police sirens.

Concert band members include:

  • Flute: K.J. Elmore, Abigail Turner, Caroline Dullaghan, and Elizabeth Fedor
  • Clarinet: Dustin Clark, Armando Damian, Sky Meador, Kelsey Roth, and Cameron Strauss
  • Bass Clarinet: Stephanie Stump
  • Alto Saxophone: Makenzie Harris
  • Percussion: Nick Colvin, Grayson Honaker, Michael Lovell, and Auria Martin
  • Trumpet: Jonathan Davis, Kole Kingery, Nich Carter, Matthew Paul, John Rusinak, Julie Wang, and Katie Wheeler
  • French Horn: Andrea Gonzalez and Katelyn Morgan
  • Trombone: Dane Blackwood, Judson Crowell, Colin Honaker, Chase Collins, Hannah Puckett, and Joseph Sandzimier
  • Tuba: Landon Young

Senior Richard Qiu conducted a selection to open the Symphonic Band section of the program, followed by performances of “Buglers Holiday,” “Standing Stones,” and “Moana.”

“Bugler’s Holiday” featured Rebecca Geisler, Kaylee Tuck, and Jasmine Crawford on trumpet. K.J. Elmore was featured in a piccolo solo in “Standing Stones.” Richard Qiu was featured on alto sax in “Moana.”

Plybon shared that “Standing Stones” was the selection the band performed for the recent Roanoke County assessment, which he described as a “tough, grueling” process. The Symphonic Band, as well as the Concert Band and Jazz Band from William Byrd received the highest rating—”Superior” at the assessment.

Symphonic band students include:

  • Flute: Sunyanna Anderson, Josephine Brandimore, K.J.Elmore, Clarissa Blankenship, Diana Damian, and Sydney Dietrich
  • Clarinet: Courney Cherry, Chloe Doss, Grecia Hernandez, Ashley Peters, Olivia Robertson, Caleb Speck, Carmen White, and Kayleigh Wyatt
  • Alto saxophone: Brenna Donahue, Savannah Gheen, Richard Qiu, Preston Fleitz, Bryant Humphries, and Maggie Steuart
  • Tenor Saxophone: Everett Fletchall and McCaffrey Simmons
  • Baritone Saxophone: Josiah Bommer
  • Trumpet: Jasmine Crawford, Rebecca Geisler, Caleb Schaubach, Kaylee Tuck, Ethan Bowser, Rachel Deatherage, Cameron Harshbarger, Caleb Jones, Brian McCormack, Rashad Vaughn, and Ethan Wood
  • French Horn: Piper Brown, Eva Pierce, Mason Gunn, and Elizabeth Recktenwald
  • Trombone: Shea Sterling, Aalysa Stuckey, Megan Wu, and Dane Blackwood
  • Tuba: Aimee Harrison
  • Percussion: James Buchanan, Jacob Speck, Alyssa Summey, Nathan Ferris, and Elijah Oltmanns,

Plybon recognized Megan Wu and Ethan Bowser for auditioning and placing in the very competitive All-District Band, which requires them to play all major scales, sight read, and perform a prepared piece on the collegiate level, in a district which encompasses a very wide area.

He presented the Director’s Award for 2018 to Kayleigh Wyatt, who he said had “warmed” his heart for the past four years with her true “love of music.”

The John Philip Sousa Award was presented to Rebecca Geisler. This is one of the highest awards a band member can receive in high school, given to Geisler for not only outstanding academics, but for her “enormous amount of service for the band, her leadership, and being a role model.”

Josephine Brandimore received the 2018 Band Department Award at the Senior Awards Banquet on May 7. This award goes to a student who maintains good academic standards in the department, displays good character, and contributes constructively to the class, department, and school.

Graduating seniors received the traditional Jefferson Cups from Plybon and Geisler.

Seniors include Courtney Cherry, Natalie Ferguson, Christopher Spano, Jasmine Crawford, Dane Blackwood, K.J. Elmore, Armando Damian, Josephine Brandimore, Chloe Doss, Kayleigh Wyatt, Brenna Donahue, Savannah Gheen, Richard Qiu, Everett Fletchall, Rebecca Geisler, Kaylee Tuck, Aalyssa Stuckey, and Jacob Speck.

Plybon said that he is more fortunate than most teachers who only get to “keep students for one year; I get to see them grow up.” In many cases, he is able to work with students for five years beginning in the eighth grade at William Byrd Middle School.

He thanked outgoing William Byrd Band Boosters President Robin Geisler for her nine years of tireless service to the band and the organization. She has served on the board for nine years and for four years as president. Her commitment ends with her daughter’s graduation this year. Suzanne Bowser will take over as president for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Jazz Band will be holding its annual “Jazz Café” fundraiser concert again at Thrasher Memorial UMC. It is scheduled for Friday, May 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. with desserts, coffee and other beverages, and a silent auction. Seventh, eighth, and high school jazz bands will perform.

The band will be performing at graduation on June 8 at the Salem Civic Center at 11:30 a.m.

After a brief summer break, band members will be participating in percussion, color guard, home and away camps in July and August.

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