All Area Celebration of the Arts Parts 1 and 2

Part One

Part Two

Some times towards the end of winter when spring has felt a long time in coming we need an evening out that can be uplifting and inspiring. Thanks to Celebration of the Arts offered Saturday afternoon at Bath County High School we can have just that. Mostly Middle School Students, and some High School band students, will be singing, playing, and displaying their arts; and the event, which is the culmination of hours of practice with guest directors, is free and open to the public. Allegheny County, Covington and Bath students will begin Friday afternoon practicing pieces to showcase Saturday. I spoke with a few Bath students who participated last year, which was the event’s first.

“My name is Katie Rexrode, and I played flute last year for the Celebration of the Arts. And it was just an amazing opportunity to get the whole community together so we could all share this love of music, and artistic abilities that we have. We practiced Friday and Saturday, and we actually performed the concert that night, and it was really just nice to get us all together. Scott Reese was the director, and he’s an amazing all around guy, and he really included everybody in it.”

Up to eighty band members or eighty choir singers may be on stage at the same time, so the spacious auditorium at BCHS is a welcome venue. The visual art will be displayed in the atrium nearby. Another student remembered why she’s glad to be joining in again this year.

“I’m Kendal Keyser, and I play percussion instruments, mainly the snare, but I can play most of the percussion instruments. So, like Katie said, Scott Reese was the director, and he is just a fantastic director and just a great person in general. He helps us at our band camps. So the Bath County kids, they have a place for him in our heart. And also, I really enjoy Celebration of the Art because it’s like All area Band, which bands go play, but Celebration of the Arts also includes choirs, and I know Allegheny’s Color Guard performed something last year, and they danced, and so it’s a big variety of people and you still get to play music while seeing other people doing other things with paintings, and singing and dancing and different things.”

Dance may not be as present this year because it’s less available to area Middle School students, but the group make up of the musicians and artists will shift from middle school aged this year, to high school the next, and back again. “My name is Nevada Kershner, I’m a senior, and I play baritone, or euphonium, whatever you want to call it, which I played last year at Celebration of the Arts. And from last year one of my favorite things I remember, is that yeah, we might go to Bath County, and there are students from Allegheny and Covington in the honor band altogether, but I have friends in both of those bands and it was really nice to be able to join and play all three schools altogether. And it’s really cool to see how with very few hours of rehearsal time all three schools, you bring kids from three different programs together, and everybody learns something from it to take back to their band to make their own band better. So, I really like how it brings together kids from different walks of life to play, and yeah, like you said, we practice on Friday for several hours, and then we come back Saturday morning, and we finish up our rehearsal, and then we perform Saturday evening, and it’s phenomenal what all we can do in just a few hours of rehearsal time.”

In the second part of this pair of stories, a couple of students weigh in on why celebrating the Arts is important for our community, and we get a few more specifics on just how to join in that celebration on Saturday afternoon.

Part 2

In the first of this pair of stories three high school musicians, Katy, Kendall and Nevada described the Celebration of the Arts, which was held for the first time last spring at the Historic Masonic Theater in Clifton Forge. This Saturday Bath County High School is hosting the event, and middle school students from Allegheny, Covington and Bath with some high school students will perform on stage and display their artwork for all to enjoy. I asked two more students why they think it’s important to celebrate the arts.

“I’m Emma Marshall, and I played flute last year in Celebration of the Arts. And I think it’s important to celebrate the Arts just so people sort of don’t forget, and also this particular event brings a lot of different art forms together, and can really just show the community everything all at once, and it’s pretty great.”

Bath County Band director, Melinda Hooker, the music directors from the All Area Schools, and the studio art teachers worked long and hard to coordinate the bands and the art travelling to the high school for families and visitors to enjoy. One more student gives all the encouragement we need to be there on Saturday.

“My name is Ethan Essex. I play sousaphone in the Marching Band, which is a tuba, but for Celebration of the Arts, I play the euphonium, same thing as Nevada. I think it’s important to celebrate the arts because I feel like the arts are underappreciated these days, and it needs to be celebrated so people can actually gather around and appreciate it as a community. And it’s a fun experience, and everybody likes it. Everybody enjoys it; everybody that goes, they have a ball.”

So, after a couple of days of late season snow slowing everything down, we can hope weather will cooperate, at least until the concert is over on Saturday. If it looks like that is going to change, Allegheny Mountain Radio will keep you updated. 2017 Music Educator of the Year for this region, and Bath Band Director, Melinda Hooker concluded,

“The concert starts at 3:pm, and you can arrive as early as 2pm, and we’ll have everything open and ready to go, but I highly recommend you come two hours before because there’s going to be lots of artwork. The Art Show opens two hours before the 3pm concert, so that’s one o’clock. And there will be artwork from all three counties, so lots and lots of artwork up here from many age ranges, so I think that’ll be a great experience, and then of course the concert begins at three.”




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.

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