CHARLOTTE – Seven Crestdale Middle School students were honored as all-district by North Carolina’s South Central District Bandmasters Association. Two of those band members were nominated for all-state recognition.
To qualify for all-district, members must play a piece specific to their instrument in front of judges. Bands from Union, Mecklenburg, Iredell and surrounding counties make up the district. Members are then grouped into “chairs” based on their mastery of the piece in accordance with other players within the district and placed into concert or symphony orchestras, with the latter being harder to achieve.
The students who were awarded all-district were Kailin Marciniak (sixth chair flute, symphonic band), Rithik Ramkumar (first chair alto saxophone, concert band), Lindsay Pfeffer (sixth chair trombone, symphonic band), Addison Carnow (first chair percussion, concert band) and Matthew Moore (first chair mallets, concert band).
In addition, two band members – eighth-graders Davis Weber and Joshua Pagan – earned another honor on top of the all-district nod as they were nominated to compete for all-state recognition in March. There, they’ll compete with other all-district players who placed within the top three chairs in their instrument.
“Recently, we haven’t had many (all-district band members) come from here,” said first-year band director O’Shae Best. “I think the biggest part is just being high enough in our district to even be recognized. Our state has some really strong players and especially in middle school. For us, getting that eligibility is a big step.”
Weber said he started playing the french horn, with which he finished in the third chair in the district, when he was in the sixth grade because his brother had played it and because he thought it was a cool-looking instrument.
“The solo was tough because there were a few fast parts in it with really weird combinations,” Weber said. “I think it’s a pretty big deal. I’m the third chair in the South Central District, so I guess that means I’m pretty good at playing.”
Weber, who will attend Providence next year, said this recognition makes him want to continue with the band.
Best thinks that would be a good idea, too.
“For Davis, I can say ‘Can you help watch the section for me?’ and he will,” Best said. “I’ve talked with his mom about this, but it’s like having another adult in the room.”
Pagan led the way for the Crestdale honorees, as he earned the first chair in the district for the trumpet.
He said his family has played the trumpet, but even so, the accomplishment was well-earned.
During the performance, Pagan said “the rhythms in the solo were kind of confusing and that threw me off a little bit. It is a big deal and it’s definitely an honor. I know there were a lot of trumpet players, so it’s an honor.”
While Pagan, who will attend Butler next year, and Weber took the highest honors, Best said the experience and exposure of even the band members who tried and didn’t get selected will be invaluable moving forward as Crestdale enters its third year as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet for performing arts.
“I had a lot of seventh-graders try out,” Best said. “Even if they didn’t make it, they still got the experience of auditioning, so we’re getting the ball rolling so they can pass that along, have more people get in next year and continue that cycle.
“We have a really hard district to make. We had a lot of students make it, but we didn’t have a lot of students make it to the top. For me, I can use this information and tell what our students may need to do better with these scales or do better with sight reading or really see what held them back and encourage them more.”