Five students from William Byrd High School were nominated by band directors Dan Plybon and Denise Aspell to participate in the 21st annual Virginia Tech Honor Band on the weekend of January 19-21.
Plybon is the band director at WBHS; Aspell is director of bands at William Byrd Middle School.
Juniors Carmen White (clarinet), Ashley Peters (clarinet), Eva Pierce (French Horn) and Megan Wu (trombone), and senior Courtney Cherry (clarinet) were chosen to attend.
Aspell said that being selected for the Virginia Tech Honor Band is an opportunity for musicians to showcase their talent and is a reward for their hard work. This year Aspell and Plybon considered only juniors and seniors when nominating students for the honor.
The Virginia Tech Honor Band is only able to accept a small percentage of the students who are nominated each year. This year approximately 400 were selected from eight states.
The student musicians spent the weekend in rehearsals, clinics, and performances on the Virginia Tech campus. The students were placed in one of four separate bands at the event, based on auditions when they arrived. Two students from William Byrd were placed in one band, three in another.
Musicians spent about eight hours in rehearsal over the weekend practicing music they had never seen until they arrived. They performed a concert for the public, made up of four classic concert band pieces. Four guest conductors were invited to lead the bands.
The honors wind ensemble was conducted by Dr. Jonathan Caldwell, director of the Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble. The other three bands were conducted by Chad Reep, assistant director of athletic bands at Virginia Tech who works with the Marching Virginians, the Men’s Basketball Pep Band, and the Symphony and Campus Bands; Don Linn, former director of athletic bands at Kansas State University; and Dr. Will Petersen, director of bands at the University of South Alabama.
Parents were invited to attend the concert on Sunday afternoon at the prestigious Moss Arts Center on the campus at Virginia Tech, which also included performances by the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and the Marching Virginians.
Participation in the Virginia Tech Honor Band also introduces high school students to the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts, which the university describes as “a vibrant and inclusive home to students from across the country and around the world.”
The performing arts program at Virginia Tech “is known for its small class sizes, curricular flexibility that encourages double majors, and access to innovative technologies and workspaces with one-on-one instruction from teaching artists.”
Aspell says William Byrd hopes to make participation in the Virginia Tech Honor Band an annual event. The 2019 Virginia Tech Honor Band will be held January 25-27, 2019. Online nominations from band directors will be accepted from October 1-November 1, 2018.