Members of the HHS band traveled to VT for Honors Band


Abby Hissong, Editor-in-Chief

From January 23 – 25, approximately 400 students nominated by their band directors, spent a weekend in rehearsals, clinics, and performances on the Virginia Tech campus. During the retreat, the students had the chance to work with acclaimed conductors, Dr. Andrew Putnam and Dr. Polly Middleton who serve as the directors of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Virginia Tech.

The directors then worked with the students to conduct one honors wind ensemble and three equally distributed concert bands. Virginia Tech faculty members also presented master classes and performances throughout the weekend for the students, directors, and parents in attendance.

From HHS, juniors Matt Bosh, Hollyn Slykhuis, Allison McGranahan, Valerio Aleman, Douglas Ritcher, Laura Ruple, and Bianca Pierson were in attendance. Each participant was considered a master of their instrument by band directors J.R. Snow and Daniel Upton. Once the seven students arrived on the Virginia Tech campus, they each auditioned to be placed into an ensemble based on skill level.

Every member from the HHS crew was placed in the top two ensembles. Slykhuis, Aleman, Ritcher, and Ruple were ranked highly, and placed in the top honors wind ensemble. All the performers worked throughout the weekend for 12 hours a day to prepare for the final concert on Sunday night with their respective ensembles. Ruple, was glad she got the experience to go on the retreat.

“Seeing how everyone came together to make something so beautiful was amazing. Working under [Andrew] Putnam was like a dream come true, and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Going on the retreat just made me excited to go to college and play music for the rest of my life,” Ruple said.