Band students gather for festival

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Dr. Thomas Cook, a retired professor from the University of Montana, conducts more than 150 students during the Mission Valley Band Festival Tuesday, Nov. 14 during a concert in Ronan. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

For the seventh year in a row, students from smaller schools in the area were provided an opportunity to perform together for the Mission Valley Band Festival.

Held at the Performing Arts Center in Ronan Tuesday evening, the festival saw 170 students from Ronan, Charlo, Arlee, St. Ignatius, Superior, St. Regis, Thompson Falls and Plains.

“This is our largest festival so far,” Alicia Lipscomb, Ronan band director, shared Monday.

She explained that she wanted students from smaller schools to be able to perform in a large group rather than in a smaller gymnasium or cafeteria.

Each year, a different guest conductor is invited to choose music for students to work on in their own band program.

“The idea is for them to have the notes down well enough that when they all get together the guest conductor can work on musical nuances,” Lipscomb added.

As the percussion section grew, it was decided that the percussion ensemble would be added to the festival five years ago.

A percussion specialist chooses several selections for percussion students to work on.

Lipscomb noted that most of the students that attend the festival would normally not have the opportunity otherwise at their schools.

This year, Dr. Thomas Cook, who is retired from the University of Montana Symphonic Winds Ensemble, was the festival band director.

Percussion ensemble director was Cody Hollow, band director at Townsend.

Performing in the arts will give these kids sevearl opportunities to travel they wouldn’t have had otherwise and gives them an opporutnity to learn play a musical insturment and expand their ability to creatively express themselves and broadens their level of experience as they persue a higher education.

As Lipscomb said they will have several opportunities that they wouldn’t have without this program.

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