Debbie Miranda – Lincoln, Nebraska … Four Upper School student instrumentalists from Mile High Academy (MHA) participated in a music festival at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, January 31-February 3. They joined other students from Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and Colorado to rehearse some challenging and inspiring music pieces.

The string orchestra was directed by Joseph Choi, the music director at Sunnydale Adventist Academy in Centralia, Missouri. Steven Hutchison, the instrumental professor at Union College, conducted the band.

In addition to hours of group and sectional practice, the festival was highlighted with delicious meals at the cafeteria, group worship, and tours of the Union College music department. The participants also performed a beautiful and exciting evening concert, February 2.

“My favorite part was the people,” said Danny Luna, MHA student, who bonded with students from other schools during the breaks. He also reported that the beds were comfortable: “I slept pretty good.”

Brendan Howe, MHA student, enjoyed playing the songs. He said, “My sight-reading improved.” His favorite song at the event was Randall Standridge’s “Choose Joy.” Ellen Chandra, MHA student, appreciated having her own room in the dorm and liked performing Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Natchmusik” (1st Movement) the most. Austin Huenergardt, also a student from MHA, said the festival was tiring, but that “The songs are all pretty good.” All of the MHA students who attended commented that they would come again.

One of the highlights of the festival were the instrument clinics, where professional musicians from the area came and gave master classes to each instrument group. Debbie Miranda, MAH music teacher, led out the flute sectionals. She learned how to explain vibrato more effectively, the correct way to triple-tongue, and the best fingering for a couple of trills.

“I was very impressed with the level of musicianship and the caliber of the students. Our own students represented very well too,” commented Miranda.

“The variety of instruments was fun,” she continued. “There were four oboe players! We also had two bass clarinets, eight trombones, a bassoon, a string bass player in the orchestra, and someone playing an instrument called a mellophone that plays like a trumpet but sounds like a French horn. Armies of flutes, trumpets, saxophones (including tenor saxophones), clarinets, and a handful of euphoniums and tubas all added their part to the collective sound. The college musicians brought their expertise to the mix as well. They performed for vespers Friday night too, which was lovely.”

Another highlight was meeting a professional composer. Andelena Jackson’s moving work, “Lullaby of the Martyrs,” was performed by the string orchestra. Jackson is an already a published composer at the age of 25. She is also a former student of Mr. Choi where she played oboe in the band.

Outside of rehearsals, the participants enjoyed checking out the Union gymnastic team practices, exercising, geocaching, video games in the dorm, doing sharpie art, and enjoying some delicious local ice cream.

—Debbie Miranda is the Mile High Academy music teacher. Photos supplied.