April 05, 2020

County music festival fills air with electricity

FORT FAIRFIELD — The All Aroostook Music Festival was missing one of its guest conductors Saturday, but that didn’t deter the high school band from performing superbly for about 1,000 spectators.

Stanley Buchanan, music educator at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, was to be the guest conductor but he was forced to stay at home, which was still without electricity because of the recent ice storm.

After learning that Buchanan needed to be with his family during the power outage, Kevin Kinsey, who teaches music in Fort Fairfield and was a host of the event, had 48 hours to either “find a replacement or be that replacement.”

Kinsey took the baton in hand to lead nearly 70 high school students through a performance of four patriotic and modern pieces that had been selected by Buchanan.

“It was a dream come true,” said Kinsey on Sunday. “It’s everyone’s dream to conduct a band like that.”

The annual two-day festival features middle- and high-school vocalists and instrumentalists who audition for the honor of performing in the concert. The location of the festival rotates among the County’s school districts.

The 1998 festival brought together 350 student musicians.

Included in the high school performance was an arrangement of “America, the Beautiful” that was dedicated to the veterans in the audience. The piece provided the background for an emotional reading of “I Am the Flag” by Dan Ladner of Presque Isle, who is director of the Caribou Performing Arts Center.

Leading the middle school chorus in several pieces was Lona Ward, who teaches grade-school music in SAD 49 at Clinton Elementary School. A guest conductor at various music festivals, she also is involved in opera and summer theater productions, including work with the Bristol Light Opera Company in Bristol, England.

Conducting the junior high band was Dr. Peter Martin, a professor of music at the University of Southern Maine. As a guest conductor and music clinician, he has appeared in more than 20 states and Canada. He also has conducted bands in England. Martin has held various state and national offices in music organizations.

The director of the University Singers at the University of Maine, Dr. Dennis Cox, directed the high school chorus. Cox has conducted festival choruses in 18 states, Canada and Europe. Under his direction, the University Singers team annually with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra on a major work.

The 90-minute concert Saturday consisted of classical, jazz and contemporary pieces selected by each conductor for their respective music groups.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like