The Walton HS Wind Symphony under the direction of John Palmer and Chris Johns presented a virtual performance showcase for the Georgia Music Educators Association in January.
The Walton High School Wind Symphony was selected to perform for the 2021 Georgia Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference. The Wind Symphony is the top concert ensemble of the Walton Band Program, consisting of 330 students, four concert bands, two jazz bands, two percussion ensembles, multiple chamber ensembles, and the award-winning Marching Raider Band.
The invitation arrived in September, leaving directors John Palmer and Chris Johns in a quandary: how to put together a performance for the state’s music convention when school was not meeting face-to-face. A traditional performance would involve the band preparing a 45-minute concert and traveling to Athens to perform for hundreds of music educators; this performance, however, would be virtual.
The directors decided to take a different approach to the concert – instead of featuring one group, they would utilize the entire program. First, the band members put together a virtual band piece where they all recorded themselves playing individual parts at home. They were even able to include 8th-grade band members from Dickerson and Dodgen Middle Schools. Once they were able to begin face-to-face rehearsals, the 2021 band seniors rehearsed one piece, and the percussion and brass ensembles worked on two other parts. All rehearsals followed strict safety guidelines and took place outside of class time. The Wind Symphony began working on a separate piece during class in November once school returned face-to-face.
Additionally, the band used two recordings from last year’s Wind Symphony. One of those recordings was accompanied by a slide show representing the trials and tribulations students have experienced during the COVID crisis and how the band students have triumphed during these challenging times.
Putting together this virtual performance amid COVID was undoubtedly challenging, and it is an accomplishment of which the Walton band students should be proud. They are already looking forward to preparing a live concert for next year’s 2022 GMEA In-Service Conference in Athens!
Chris Ferrell, Supervisor
Performing Arts – Instrumental Music
Contributing Authors: John Palmer, Director – Walton High School Wind Symphony