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Top student musicians get in tune

Middle School Honors Concert this weekend will feature the best of the best in Glendale Unified.

April 23, 2008|By Angela Hokanson

The cream of the crop among middle school instrumentalists in the Glendale Unified School District converged at Wilson Middle School on Tuesday to practice for Saturday’s Middle School Honors Concert, a performance that showcases some of the district’s best musicians.

Nearly 200 students from the district’s four middle schools will play in the Honors Concert, which is in its 21st year. The show is put together by the music directors at the middle schools, who hand-pick the participating students.

“These are the top kids at each school,” said Rod Yonkers, the instrumental music director from Rosemont Middle School.

The teachers bring together these gifted musicians so that they can learn from one another and from the process of rehearsing as a group, teachers said.


“It gives them a chance to rub shoulders and mix together and see what’s possible,” Yonkers said.

During Tuesday’s rehearsal, the string instrumentalists practiced one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg concertos in one wing of the school while the concert band worked on “Theme from Patton” by Jerry Goldsmith.

Three musical groups will perform during Saturday’s show: the concert band, the string orchestra and the symphonic orchestra.

The student musicians have been working on the pieces for the concert at their schools for a few months, and have come joined up for larger rehearsals in recent weeks.

“There’s a lot more instruments so the sounds are different,” said Frank Mezzatesta, 13, who plays the clarinet.

Checking out the styles of other players and performing in larger groups have been interesting aspects of preparing for this year’s concert, students said.

“You can compare yourself to everyone in the district, and you know what it feels like to play with people from other schools,” said Alec Mouradiam, 13.

The pieces to be performed cover many musical genres, including classical, jazz and multicultural, said Sarah Gianos, the instrumental music director at Wilson Middle School.

Some of the works include Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and “The Great Highland Pipes,” by Mike Hannickel.

Hannickel’s Scottish-inspired work is 12-year-old Alex Edwards’ favorite of the show’s program.

“It’s really intricate, and it’s a challenging piece. It gives me something to work on,” said Alex, a student at Toll Middle School.

Being part of the Honors Concert gives Alex a chance to savor the music he’s helping to make.

“It just gives me time to really reflect on the music and be around talented musicians,” he said.

The Middle School Honors Concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at Glendale High School at 1440 E. Broadway. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door.

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