Friday, February 16, 2024

District 2 honors fourteen WHS musicians to perform in festival concerts

By Jolene Bailey

Music is all around us and is a deep passion for many. For 14 Windham High School students, their passion for music and talent was rewarded with their selection to perform in the District 2 Music Festivals, sponsored by the Maine Music Educators Association.

2024 District 2 Vocal Festival musicians perform in concert
Jan. 24 at the Windham High School Performing Arts
Center. The choral group was made up of students from
across the Greater Portland area and included 12 students
from Windham High. Three WHS students also performed
in the District 2 Instrumental Festival concert Feb. 2
at Deering High School. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Student auditions for the annual event were held at the Greater Portland high schools last fall and only the finest performers were honored with selection for district concerts. District 2 is a music organization which invites students to perform in band, chorus, orchestra, and jazz with students teaming up to perform at festivals vocally and instrumentally.

The District 2 Vocal Festival Concert was performed at Windham High School on Jan. 26-27 and the Instrumental Festival was performed Feb. 2-3 at Deering High School in Portland.

WHS students honored with selection to perform in the District 2 Vocal Festival for chorus include Ashlynn Cuthbert, Lily Lundberg, Laura Bearce, Abi Coleman, Karly Day, Sasha Funk, Ava Dickson, Jacob Lowberg, Stuart Gabaree, Lochlin Post van der Burg, Nick Davenport and Ralph Leavitt.

Three WHS were honored with selection to perform in the District 2 Instrumental Festival are Ellise Gallop, Rowan Cummings and Nick Davenport.

“District 2 is a way to grow yourself as a singer, but it also forces you to be social and meet a bunch of new people who enjoy the same things as you” said WHS sophomore Ava Dickson, who was honored with District 2 selection for chorus this year after also being selected last year as a freshman.

Dickson has been involved with music ever since her early days of childhood. She is also a performer in the Windham Chamber Singers and can often be spotted in the theater at school.

“The audition process can be stressful if it's your first time, but the judges in each room are very supportive and once you're in the audition room your nerves just go away,” said Dickson.

Before the auditions, each student is given a variety of songs and sheet music for different levels to learn.

“As soon as I get my music, I try to listen to each song a few times to get myself comfortable with the rhythms, and I mostly practice on the weekends,” said Dickson. “The most challenging song we had to sing was probably Dies Irae, as this song was in a different language so it took time to make sure I was pronouncing everything correctly.”

2024 District 2 Vocal Festival performer Ashlynn Cuthbert is a freshman at WHS. She said she will treasure the experience and the new friends she made with performers chosen for the District 2 Festival from other schools.

“District 2 is not a competition. While the auditions are sometimes competitive, the overall idea of the festival is communities coming together to make great music,” Cuthbert said. “To make things into a competition would be against that ideal. I love that it is not a competition because it just shows that music is supposed to bring people together, not separate them.”

Cuthbert also was honored with selection to perform in District 2 festivals at the middle school level as a seventh and eighth grader in the past but worked intensely this year to do well during her audition and in performing at the festival concert.

"I practiced a little bit each night, increasing each night as the festival got closer. Some nights I would just listen to the pieces, others I would sing along, and some nights I would sing it with the accompaniment” said Cuthbert.

She said she was humbled to be included among the group of outstanding high school students performing this year.

“District 2 is like the culmination of all the talent and hard work of the choirs in our area. The people who have been accepted into this choir that only lasts for a couple days truly hold it as something to be proud of,” Cuthbert said. “The energy and vibe that stems from that is indescribable. You can also feel the passion and excitement in the rehearsal room because everyone in there has worked so hard to get to that spot.” <

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