All Area Band hosted at Bath County High School

Saturday evening an audience from five surrounding school systems was treated to an exceptional concert at Bath County High School. The Central Highland All Area Band first came to Bath County Friday morning, and met with two guest directors to practice new songs, and to get ready for the Saturday performance. Over 140 middle and high school students made up two groups that filled the stage. Each of them had competed in the late fall for their position in this one-time experience. Karen Doyle, the music director from Lyndburn Downing Middle School in Lexington spoke just before introducing the High Schoolers’ director.

“I would also like to ‘thank-you’ to all the wonderful people here in Bath County. You all are definitely the best hosts that we could ever ask for.   Yeah, you can clap for yourselves if you want to.”

Ms. Doyle made special mention of the role Bath County High School Band Director Melinda Hooker had in coordinating the event, and then welcomed guest director, Robbie Speirs. Mr Spiers has been leading the band at Lancaster County High School in the Northern Neck of Virginia since 1985. This part of the concert began with a march.


Mr. Spiers took time between each piece of music to give some of its background, and to give credit to the musicians.

“When I get here Friday morning, I bring the music. They’ve never seen it; they’ve never seen me. They’ve never met me. I’ve never seen any of theses kids before yesterday morning. And so it almost seemed like an impossible task , but when you have kids like these, it’s not impossible. They ‘ve worked hard; I’ve pushed them, and they’ve done so, so well.”

Mr. Marlon Foster, from Harrisonburg, led the Middle School Honor Band in the first part of the performance. He recently retired from the Harrisonburg School system, and is an adjunct faculty in percussion at James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. The students were able to achieve a level of playing in less than two days, they might never have expected of themselves, thanks to these two directors.

Mr. Spiers had commissioned “Glad Adoration” in memory of his wife who he had lost to cancer.

“We premiered it at my school in December. It was the first time it was ever played. It has never been published. It will be in a couple of years, I’m sure. But it’s like a brand new, fresh piece; nobody’s ever heard it ever played it. So this band will be only the second band to ever play it and perform it.”

(Music)  So this experience for students from twelve through seventeen years old, from Rockbridge, Highland, Bath, Allegheny Counties, and the cities of Covington and Buena Vista was one of a kind, and is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon. A big congratulations to the band directors from each school, the dedicated families who fed the visitors, and who traveled to listen, and to each and every student who made music that afternoon.



Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather