February 22, 2018
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
The way Erich Zimmerman sees it, a fine arts performance is a two-way street between the artist and the audience.
When it comes to the RCS All-County Band Concert — which will be held Friday, Feb. 23 at World Outreach Church at 7 p.m. — he selects musical pieces that are “very listenable to the audience” and “benefit the students.”
But overall, the performance needs to provide a challenge that is an educational benefit for the students.
The concert is free and open to the public.
Zimmerman will be conducting the top 75 freshmen and sophomore players from Rutherford County, while Dr. Jack Stamp and Jerell Horton will conduct the juniors and seniors and the middle school groups, respectively.
Stamp is a nationally recognized conductor and composer, who served as director of bands at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for 25 years. On Wednesday, Stamp also led a conducting workshop for 10 area band directors. The workshop, a first of its kind in Rutherford County, also served as a professional development opportunity for those who participated. The session focused on conducting techniques with the Stewarts Creek High wind ensemble serving as the lab band.
Horton is the band director at Vestavia Hills High School in Alabama.
“It is always interesting to perform a piece with a conductor who composed that piece himself,” said Lindsay Halford, fine arts coordinator for Rutherford County Schools.
The performance will feature 90 middle school band members playing woodwinds, bass and percussion along with 150 high schoolers. The group of 240 student-performers is up from 180 last year, according to Chris Click, band director at Central Magnet School.
Prior to this year, Click spent the past two years organizing the event, and offered great insight into expanding this year’s performance that led to moving the event to World Outreach, Halford said.
“The quality of the event has gone up,” Click said, “and more students are able to (participate) in a better venue and at no cost to the student.”
In the past, students paid $15-20 to participate.
The three all-county bands, which were selected based on their individual scores from last fall’s regional auditions for All-Midstate honors, will rehearse for two hours on Thursday night and all day on Friday in preparation for the performance.
Zimmerman said he has chosen five selections that he “feels like everyone should leave liking at least one” of the selections played by the freshmen and sophomore group. He chose an overture, a “pretty piece” based on an English folk song; Trail of Tears; a Latin piece with a tango in the middle; and a military march.
“Everyone likes a march,” Zimmerman said, “and stylistically, a challenge.”
Click said he is not sure the community at-large “knows how good the bands in Rutherford County are.
“We’re usually if not the most, one of the most represented groups at Midstate and Allstate,” Click continued, “so the concert is going to be fantastic with some of the top players in the state playing under some of the top conductors in the nation and it’s free.”
“You look forward to the challenge, but you know it’s going to be very rigorous,” said Zimmerman, who looks forward to seeing all the players come together as an all-star over a 24-hour period. “It’s a challenge, but it’s also very exhilarating.”