"A Cool Yule" is the theme for this year's Festival of Sound presented by Wheeling Park High School's music department.
More than 300 student musicians will perform at the 16th annual Festival of Sound concert Monday, Dec. 19. Two performances will be presented at WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling at 2 p.m. and at 7 p.m.
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 Friday, Dec. 16. On the day of the show, tickets will be sold at the high school only until noon when the Festival of Sound box office will move to WesBanco Arena. Ticket prices are higher at the door.
Orchestra, band and steel drum band members look forward to their performances at Festival of Sound. Seated are Hannah Ceo, left, and Valkyrie Schultz; standing, from left, are Christian Oliver, Kaitlyn Scott and Garrett Weigel.
The Festival of Sound has, by tradition, been a "family-friendly" concert and that is especially true this year. "Within the performing ensembles at Wheeling Park High School, there are several siblings taking the stage in the different ensembles," said Leslie Garrett, choir director at the Ohio County public consolidated high school.
Ensembles performing during the Festival of Sound include Park's concert band, jazz 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 in the concert.
Percussion coordinator Seth Bell said that many of these ensembles "interact" 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," he said.
Holiday and winter music will be featured at the concert. Individual works range from classical pieces, such as Tchaikovsky's "Trepak" and Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" to an arrangement of the Hebrew piece, "Bashana Haba'ah."
Other pieces include favorites such as "Winter Wonderland"; "Frosty the Snowman", featuring Wheeling Park percussionists; "The Polar Express" and a jazzy arrangement of "Cool Yule," made famous by Louis Armstrong.
Choir director Gladys Mitch commented that the collaborative nature of the concert is a reflection of the music department at Wheeling Park. Student musicians often participate in more than one musical ensemble.
"Audience members revel in keeping track of the busy music-makers as they jump from one ensemble to another," Mitch said. "The Festival of Sound concert demonstrates the great admiration that the students and staff have for one another and where everyone is working toward a common purpose."
Patrick Garrett, who serves as director of bands, has been impressed not only with the student's musical gifts, but also the manner in which students must manage their hectic schedules. He said that many of the Festival of Sound performers also have been involved in the Park Players' fall play, speech team competitions and various athletic and academic organizations throughout the fall. These students divide their time with these events while dashing in and out of the after-school music rehearsals. In addition, many of the musicians maintain jobs outside of school.
One facet of the concert that generally goes unnoticed is the involvement of the three parent music organizations and parent alumni. They join forces to run the countless logistics of a concert of this magnitude. Many former parent volunteers return year after year to support the current parent organizations as well.
"The concert would have trouble getting off the ground without the endless volunteer hours of these special organizations," remarked Ben Podolski, director of the WPHS orchestra.
Directors of the Festival of Sound include Bell, Joshua Garrett, Leslie Garrett, Patrick Garrett, Mitch, Podolski and Nathan Underwood.