The Robert L. Bland Middle School’s seventh and eighth grade band has been selected as the 2018 West Virginia Music Educators Association Middle School State Honor Ensemble.
This is the highest accolade achievable by a band, choir, or orchestra in the state, and is given to only one middle school ensemble in West Virginia each year.
The RLBMS Band has been praised regionally for years now, receiving superior ratings at regional band festival each year and winning WV State Honor Band two years ago in 2016.
This year’s state honor ensemble applications were judged by professional adjudicators from all over the country, most of which were college professors. The RLBMS Band received better scores than any middle school band, choir, or orchestra in the state.
“I could not be more proud of these young musicians,” said RLBMS Band and Choir Director Adam Loudin.
“The amount of work that goes into even applying for state honor ensemble is enormous. These studentsThe young musicians in this ensemble bought into the idea as sixth graders that if they dedicated every moment of every rehearsal to achieving their musical goals, they could become the finest ensemble around,” he continued.
“Our choir program is about teaching students to be hard workers, good team members, and to develop them into not only good singers, but good people.
I find that the more the students learn to treat their fellow classmates with dignity and respect, the better they feel about themselves and the more their art blossoms. As they discover they can overcome musical difficulties through consistent and persistent practice, they discover that the same concepts apply to anything problem they wish to overcome in their lives. There is so much to be learned from music and these kids get it.”
The competition for state honor ensemble is always very difficult. Because the state only chooses one ensemble and is not divided into classes like it is in athletics, RLBMS had to compete against schools with twice the student population, and schools that can create a special class for only the most talented musicians instead of an inclusive ensemble of all choral members. The choir made its audition recording at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and was recorded by Lone Wolf Studio in Elkins.
Usually, the state middle school honor ensemble is a band. In fact, there has not been a middle school honor choir in many years, largely due to the fact that band programs in the state are much more active, and to become honor choir, the choir must score higher than every band in the state.
This is also the first year in many years, and perhaps ever, that a school has won state honor band and state honor choir in consecutive years.
“I could not be more proud of my students achieving this unique accomplishment. There are students in this ensemble that were in the state honor band last year and it is exciting to think they are some of, if not the first students to have ever done that. Both the band and choir programs are thriving at our school and they are thriving at the high school as well,” Loudin said.
As a part of this award, the RLBMS Eighth Grade Choir has been invited to travel to Charleston in March and perform a concert at the WV Music Educators Annual Conference. The choir will perform in the Little Theater of the Charleston Civic Center at 1 p.m., on Thursday, March 2. This concert is free and open to the public.
The choir program in Lewis County has been continuously growing over the past few years. The middle school program currently has approximately 105 members in sixth through eighth grade, and the high school program is beginning to reflect that growth as well. The RLBMS Band and Choir will be performing local concerts in late May. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and enjoy the artistic contributions of our local youth to the arts landscape of our region.