Musical groups receive awards in Washington, D.C.

By on May 2, 2013
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by Dave Woehrle
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Three bands and three choirs from Kaneland High School received eight awards at the Heritage Music Festival in Washington D.C. on March 21.

Over 25 instrumental ensembles and 20 choirs from 11 different states participated in the festival.

The KHS groups were led by musical directors Bryan Kunstman and Aaron Puckett. The choirs were judged on vocal tone, intonation, interpretation, balance, blend, diction, rhythm, music selection and overall effect. The bands were judged on tone, intonation, technique, balance, and interpretation. Three judges gave each ensemble a score, and the scores were averaged to determine the award levels.

KHS won the Festival Sweepstakes Award, the most prestigious award of the event. To qualify for festival sweepstakes, schools must enter one choral group, one instrumental group, and a third musical group of their choice. The school that accumulates the highest number of points toward a perfect score of 300 determines the winner.

“This award was given regardless of school size, which caused our school to be put in an overall category with schools that were both larger and smaller than Kaneland,” Kunstman said. “Each of the bands and choirs received the highest score in their class.”
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Bella Voce, Concert Choir and Madrigals each received a gold superior rating by averaging a score of over 90 points out of 100. Bella Voce and Madrigals also received an adjudicator’s award for averaging 95 points for their performances.

As a result of the gold rating, these choirs have been invited to perform in the Heritage Festival of Gold, held at Carnegie Hall in New York next year. Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Wind Ensemble each received a silver (excellent) rating by averaging a score of over 80 points out of 100.

Denise Blaszynski, president of the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, said she was impressed by the awards.

“This was a great opportunity for the young musicians,” Blaszynski said.

Preparation for the festival began in January after the holiday concerts, when the students began learning the new repertoire.

“The trip was student-funded with opportunities for fundraising,” Kunstman said. “The students worked hard for these achievements, and their families, our school, community and district should be commended for the support they have shown. They were excited about their achievements, and really enjoyed the experience.”

Kunstman won the festival’s Top Director Award.