Mastering Modern Music: The Monadnock Valley Music Festival

Molly Peters

Celia Wallis, News Editor

A hush falls over the crowd as the conductor raises his baton and the band begins their opening song. The band and choir joined with nearby schools to prepare the final performance of the Monadnock Valley Music Festival (MVMF) that took place in Keene, NH on Jan. 12th and 14th.

Students were chosen for the festival through nominations from their band or choir teachers. 12 band students and 20-30 choir members from HB participated.

Students were given four new songs to practice about a week before the festival began. They then continued to work on these songs while at the event itself.

At the festival, students met with guest conductors from Keene State College to warm up and practice the songs. Band students met and worked with Dr. John Hart and choir students with Dr. Sandra Howard.

“We rehearsed together as a group and would stop at sections to work on details like dynamics and articulation,” said Abby Wallis, a Bari Sax player.

The days’ practice sessions were a success, and the final performances left students excited to continue practicing and performing music.

“The band did amazing. At the end of each of the pieces, I had chills because we all ended together and it sounded amazing. It was such a cool experience,” said Wallis.

Outside of practicing music, the festival allowed people to catch up with members of other bands. Over lunch breaks, students could get to know band members from their school and other schools.

While students were practicing, band teacher Charles Rogers also got a chance to catch up with some of his colleagues from other school districts. They talked about plans for the school year, such as how the HB band is going on a trip to New York City.

The teachers also used this time to plan the festival for next year, including which schools are invited, who the guest conductors are, and what the plan is for food.

“Next year we are going to host it [MVMF] at Keene State College… but they are on break during that time so we’re not sure,” says Rogers. 

This festival has the same structure as many others that the band participates in every year. However, this is the first year that most of these festivals have been held since the pandemic. For many students, this was the first time at an event like this.

“It was really a learning experience for a lot of people. Those of us from the honors choir, we were really there to help out…” says Molly Peters, a member of the honors choir.

The festival taught students new warm-ups that they hope to continue using as well as new ways of using their instruments and voices, which Rogers hopes to incorporate into future band arrangements.

These festivals are valuable opportunities for students to meet other musicians and develop skills that will further their playing.