Eight Cape Elizabeth students in a choir made up of 22 schools in York on Jan. 18. The students were selected to perform in the District 1 Honors Festival after auditioning in the fall. Courtesy/Mike Scarpone

CAPE ELIZABETH — Twelve students from Cape Elizabeth High School were excited to perform with 22 other schools in the District 1 Honors Festival band, said Cape band teacher Mike Scarpone.

The performance was in York on Jan. 18, but the students had been working toward that day since the fall and practiced together as a group on the 17th.

The students accepted to perform, according to Scarpone, were Lydia Branson, Alex Ecker, Emma Frothingham, Marco Hansel, Heath Kennedy, Sydney McFarland, Luke O’Kelly, Emma Ouellette, Olivia Ouellette, Laura Ryer, Abigail Scifres and Ella Stanley.

Scarpone, who is new to Cape Elizabeth this year, said that his students this year have a drive to become the best musicians they can be, a quality that helps when auditioning for a festival or show.

“Because it’s an Honors Festival, they have to earn that placement,” he said. “We had quite a few kids who didn’t make it because the competition is really tight. When they find out they get in they’re pretty happy. It’s a stepping stone to All State.”

Scarpone explained that All State, similar to the Honors Festival, involves auditioning to be part of a weekend-long performance experience at the University of Maine’s Orono campus in May. The Honors Festival helps some students get comfortable auditioning solo.

“It kind of gets the nerves out,” he said. “Some students are really nervous about being in front of the adjudicator.”

Cape Elizabeth band students participating in York for the Honors Festival with 22 other schools on Jan. 18. Courtesy/ Mike Scarpone

Joanne Lee, the school’s choir teacher, said that the eight students accepted into the festival’s choir were “speechless” and thrilled at the idea of singing in a larger group than the usual 28-student choir at the high school.

She said that the students got a unique experience, especially for younger musicians.

“This year’s festival the director of the mixed choir, Jacob Narverud, he’s an international composer, conductor, and we sung an arrangement he did in a previous concert, so the students knew his name,” said Lee. “It was nice for them to have a connection of him already. To work with him and have him conduct his own composition was an experience not a lot of musicians get. I think that’s extraordinary.”

Both Lee and Scarpone said that the superintendent, administration and community support the music department, more so than most school districts in the state.

“Something special to the whole music program, band and choir, is that we’re a K-12 department,” said Scarpone. “We’re working on aligning everything vertically. We’re trying to make it a comprehensive program so kids in kindergarten get that exposure to music. I just do the high school and work hard to stay aligned with the middle school. A huge strength of our program is that we get huge support from the district.”

Lee has a collective 13 or 14 years of experience with Cape Elizabeth High School.

“Truly, teaching in Cape Elizabeth is a gift, from the students to getting to create something new every day,” Lee said. “I’m truly lucky.”

Scarpone said that he’s excited for the upcoming performances at the high school, including a jazz cabaret on March 27 in the high school cafeteria at 6:30 p.m.

“It will feature all jazz programs, grades 8-12, including high school choir,” he said. “The Cape Education Foundation has given us some money to bring in some artists. We’re bringing in a trumpet player who will play with the jazz band.”

A good student musician can “convey through their music ideas that are not on the piece of paper. They have to take all these notes and rhythms and use their own creativity. The notes are kind of a guideline. That’s pretty abstract,” said Scarpone.

The District 1 Jazz Festival will be on Feb. 11 at York High School, and the Cape Elizabeth High School’s winter concert is on March 19 at 7 p.m.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: