By Kristan Krogman
White River hosted Region VII Honors Band students Monday, October 15. Almost 200 students came from eight neighboring schools, representing the top musicians from the area. Schools involved included: Bennett County, Jones County, Kadoka Area, Lyman County, Philip, Stanley County, Todd County, Wall, and White River.
The students arrived Monday morning and spent much of the day rehearsing pieces for the evening concert. A break at noon allowed students to enjoy a meal provided by folks from the Mellette County EMT Association. Prior to the concert, a group from the Mellette County Historical Society prepared an evening meal.
Parents, grandparents,and other family and friends packed into Barnhart Gymnasium for the 7 o’clock performance. Ben Latham from Kadoka Area Schools was guest conductor for the Middle School Band. After having spent time as a conductor in California schools, Latham applauded local schools for their commitment to fine arts and for allowing music education a place in the curriculum.
The middle school band was comprised of over 90 students who performed three songs. The group opened with a moving rendition of “God Bless America” and went on to play an original piece by Latham, “March Pacifica”. The closed with “Arabian Dances” an upbeat number that featured two soloists, one of whom was Morgan Taft an eighth grade flutist from White River Middle School.
The High School Honors Band featured almost 100 musicians and was directed by Jared Opp of Gregory High School who returned after directing last year. Opp commended the students and their parents and reported not one incident involving disciplinary problems. “You may have, them at home”, he said, “but we had none today.” The high school band also played three numbers. They opened with “Pine River Trilogy” and then played an arrangement by Michael Brown featuring songs from the group Coldplay. The band’s final number was “The Big Cage” by Karl King, a piece they performed as an encore following the crowd’s ovation at the end of the concert.
Their were a total of eighteen musicians from the White River School District. Students from WRMS were: Morgan Taft (flute), Shaynee Bettelyoun (flute), Deija DeMarrias (clarinet), Paige LeBoeuf (clarinet), Morgan Venard (clarinet), Sarah Keefe (alto sax), Gabe Beardt (alto sax), and Cassie Colome (trumpet). Students representing White River High School were: Jewel Bordeaux (flute), Lizzy Cameron (flute), Kaitlyn Blom (clarinet), Karlee Ludvik (alto sax), Rachel Astleford (alto sax), Sage Mednansky (tenor sax), Emma Twite (trumpet), Julia LeBoeuf (trumpet), Lucas Beardt (percussion), and Laura Moore (percussion).