Festival of Sound Is a Family Affair

More than 300 student musicians will perform at the 16th annual Festival of Sound concert at WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling Thursday, Dec. 16. Again this year, there will be two performances of the Festival of Sound at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Traditionally, the Festival of Sound has been a “family-friendly” concert and this is especially true this year. Within the performing ensembles at Wheeling Park High School, there are 29 sets of siblings performing together in the different ensembles, said Gladys Mitch, choir director at the Ohio County public consolidated high school.

The participating siblings are Erika and Trevor Allen; Harley and India Amos; Brent and Shawn Bishop; Emily and Lindsey Bodiker; Mariah and Billy Campbell; Amber and Crystal Collins; Casey and Emma Dolan; Jacob and Kyle Gibson; Kaydon and Kelsey Hardman; Caleb and Hannah Hedrick; Dana and Lydia Holmstrand; Elizabeth and Michael Hooper; Anna and Blake Humphrey; Andrea and Audrey Loew; Luke and Tori Mason; Keith and Zachary Michael; Christian and Emily Oliver; Evan and Megan Robinson; Megan and Emily Roe; Denver, Erin and Lindsey Schuler; Bobby and Rebecca Sellers; Ashleigh and Keleigh Sidon; Derek and Morgan Smith; Danielle and Dora Vetanze; Emma and Garrett Weigel; Abbie and Tiffanie Wilson; Dani and Nick Wolfe and Karla and Sara Yurko.

Tickets for the performances are now being sold in the main office at Wheeling Park High School from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on school days through Thursday, Dec. 16. On the day of the show, tickets will be sold at the high school only until 11 a.m., when the Festival of Sound box office will move to WesBanco Arena. Tickets at the door are priced higher.

Ensembles performing during the Festival of Sound include Park’s concert band, jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble and steel drum band. The Wheeling Park orchestra and string ensemble, along with the Festival Choir, Young Patriots and Voices of Freedom also will appear on the concert.

Many of these ensembles “intermingle” during the program. Members of the award-winning Wheeling Park High School speech team, who also perform as musicians in various ensembles, serve as narrators for the event.

Holiday and winter music will be offered at the concert. Individual pieces range from classical pieces such as Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” to special arrangements showcasing Wheeling Park percussionists and company. Other pieces include favorites such as “Silent Night,” “White Christmas” and a special arrangement of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter.”

The collaborative nature of the concert is a reflection of the music department at Wheeling Park. The high school musicians often participate in more than one musical ensemble.

Leslie Garrett, choir director at WPHS, said audience members delight in keeping track of the busy music-makers as they jump from one ensemble to another. “The Festival of Sound concert demonstrates the great respect that the students and staff have for one another and where everyone is working toward a common goal,” she added.

Benjamin Podolski, who serves as orchestra conductor, has been impressed, not only with the students’ musical abilities, but also the manner in which students must manage their busy schedules. He said many of the Festival of Sound performers also have been involved in the Park Players’ fall play, speech team competitions and various athletic organizations throughout the fall. These students split their time with these events while dashing in and out of the after-school music rehearsals. In addition, many of the musicians hold down jobs outside of school.

One aspect of the concert that generally goes unnoticed is the involvement of the three parent music organizations. The groups join forces to run the countless logistics of a concert of this magnitude.

“The concert would have trouble getting off the ground without the endless volunteer hours of these special organizations,” band director Patrick Garrett said. “Many former parent volunteers return year after year to support the current parent organizations as well.”

Directors of the Festival of Sound include Seth Bell, Leslie Garrett, Patrick Garrett, Mitch and Podolski.