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8 middle school musicians to play at honor band festival

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 9:55 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 10:24 a.m. CST

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Eight Berg Middle School instrumental musicians were selected to perform in the 2017 South Central Iowa Bandmaster’s Association District Honor Band Festival.

The festival, which takes place Nov. 7 at Ankeny Centennial High School, represents one of the highest honors for middle school musicians. Maggie Garrett, an eighth-grader at Berg, a tenor saxophonist, won first chair at rehearsals and will represent the district at part of the All Iowa eighth Grade Honor Band. Seth Banwell, the band director at Berg, said Garrett’s work ethic is the driving force behind her performance.

“She practices every night and it’s evident in the way that she plays, she has a strong passion for music and it shows in what she does,” Banwell said.

Banwell, who’s been teaching music at Berg for nine years, said it’s huge honor for a student to be selected for the Honor Band. Garrett is only the fourth student who’s been tapped to play in All-State Honor Band, one of 120 students statewide and the only tenor saxophonist selected from 65 schools.

“It’s really tough to get in, it’s a really big deal,” Banwell said.

The three honor bands represent the seventh and eighth grade levels and consist of 100 students each.  Each band will perform a 20-minute portion of the evening concert.  

More than 300 students from approximately 65 schools, representing 13 counties in the South Central Iowa District will participate.  

“These kids work very diligently, a lot of the kids took summer lessons,” Banwell said.

Among those are three Newton seventh grade band students who were selected to the honor band according to advance progress in technique books and outstanding musicianship.  They include Leo Friedman, son of Bryan and Robin Friedman, alto saxophone; Tatum Rechtfertig, daughter of Joe and Tara Rechtfertig, clarinet; and Haley Sevenbergen, daughter of Scott and Ange Sevenbergen; horn.  

Eighth grade students went through a very rigorous audition process involving memorizing eight major scales, the chromatic scale, a slow etude and a fast etude in order to earn a spot in the District Honor Band.  Local students selected include Grace Benson, daughter of Jason and Mindy Benson, clarinet; Maggie Garrett, daughter of Chris and Carrie Garrett, tenor saxophone; Tanner Guy, son of Matt and Summer Guy, trombone; Kathryn Van Manen, daughter of Todd and Sara Van Manen, horn; and Lauren Zaabel, daughter of Roger and Pam Zaabel, clarinet.  Maggie Garrett was also selected as the top musician in the tenor saxophone section which also qualifies her for a spot in the 120-piece Iowa Bandmaster’s All-State eighth Grade Honor Band that will perform at the Iowa Bandmaster’s Association Convention on May 10 in Des Moines.  Being selected to perform in this elite group is the highest honor an instrumental musician can achieve in middle school.

After auditioning in Waukee in front of local band directors last month Garrett was thrilled to find out that she’d been selected for the honor band.

“She was overjoyed, she’s just worked so hard and she was very deserving of it,” Banwell said.

The District Honor Band Festival will be on Nov. 7 at Ankeny Centennial High School.  The festival rehearsals will begin at 12:45 p.m. and conclude with three concerts beginning at 6:30 p.m.  

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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