FRONT ROYAL, VA – Eight members of the Fork Union Military Academy band were recognized at the 45thAnnual Military School Band Festival hosted by Randolph Macon Academy this past weekend. Ten different military high schools and colleges participated in the event, auditioning against each other for two days, prior to ending the event with a collaborative performance.
Each student auditions for a judge and is scored on their ability to play pre-prepared music. Of the 15 Blue Devils that attended the festival, three received First Chair, three received Second Chair and two received Third Chair recognitions. These young men were scored against and on the same scale as the college freshmen that attended the festival from schools including Virginia Military Institute and New Mexico Military Institute.
“Every director was extremely impressed by the professionalism and musicianship of our cadets,” said Director of Music John Warren. “Words cannot describe how proud I am of how these young men did this weekend.”
Alessandro Gaudio, Joaquin Yescas and Ousmane Dieng were the three that earned First Chair recognition and received a Silver Medal for their performance.
Gaudio achieved First Chair alto saxophone. He is a postgraduate student who has contributed much to the music program since he arrived in the fall. The West Hartford, Conn., native plays in Fork Union’s Marching Band, Honors Band and the Saxophone Quartet.
“Having attended both performances at the Governor’s Mansion this winter and supporting multiple sporting events on and off campus as part of the Saxophone Quartet, cadet Gaudio has set the standard both in and out of the band room for what a cadet should strive for,” said Warren.
Yescas achieved First Chair mallet percussion. He is a sophomore from Miami, Fla.
“Yescas has been in the band room learning multiple instruments throughout his time here at Fork Union. While his primary instrument is the quints in the marching band, he put those aside and worked tirelessly to prepare to audition on mallet percussion at the festival. His flexibility and willingness to play any instrument asked has set him a step above the other band students and we are proud to have him in the band,” added Warren.
Dieng achieved First Chair percussionist. He is a senior from Germantown, Md., who scored the highest score in the auditions of any high school student.
“Dieng has tirelessly mentored our drumline here on campus to bring them to the amazing place they are right now,” said Warren. “At the festival, he did the same thing for the percussionists from the other schools to have them become an amazing percussion section in just two days. He organized parts and players for all the auxiliary percussion instrumentalists ensuring each knew how to play their part and their instrument. Dieng continues to raise the standard for every musician here on campus and for those that met him at the Military School Band Festival.”
In addition to the First Chair recipients, James Robinson, Peter Signorino and Christopher Chadwell earned Second Chair recognition.
Robinson achieved Second Chair clarinet. The senior from Falls Church, Va., plays in the Honors Band, Marching Band and is the founder of the Saxophone Quartet.
“Robinson has been one of our top musicians here in our band for the past two years. He has inspired multiple others to not only join the band but push their limits. Without him, the band would not be as successful as it is,” added Warren.
Signorino achieved Second Chair trumpet. The senior from Hayes, Va., shined at the festival, impressing COL Brody who is VMI’s Band Director.
“COL Brody, who directed the festival’s concert and auditioned the trumpets, raved about Signorino’s trumpet ability. He continues to put a lot of time in to expanding his ability as a trumpet player and has mentored all the brass in ways to improve. As the senior trumpet player in our band, he works with the underclassmen every day to ensure that after he graduates, our trumpet section is as strong as it can be.”
Chadwell achieved Second Chair baritone. The freshman from Seaford, Del., competed against students of all grade levels, including college freshmen.
“His preparation and drive to do well this weekend shined at the auditions,” said Warren. “As just a freshman, achieving Second Chair recognition just shows how talented he truly is. As he moves into his sophomore year, we are all excited to see where he can go musically.”
Rounding out the Academy’s awards are Kelvin Montesinos and Theo Aberra, who received Third Chair recognition.
Montesinos achieved Third Chair alto saxophone. The junior from Clermont, Fla., is in his second year with the band and has played in every event the band has played in over the past two years. He has been a member of the Marching Band, Honors Band and the Saxophone Quartet.
“Montesinos has been everything the Academy has needed the past two years,” said Warren. “As a junior, he has shown musicianship of someone who has played for many years, and we are all excited to see where music takes him in the future.”
Aberra achieved Third Chair tuba. The freshman from Charlottesville, Va., is in his second year at the Academy.
“Aberra performed amazingly well at his auditions and throughout the weekend,” said Warren. “To compete as the youngest musician and achieve third chair honors is an amazing feat. His musical talent was obvious throughout the weekend, and he has returned to the band room on campus with a new fire for learning music and striving to get first chair next year.”
Lastly, Matthew Moore competed in the drum major competition. Despite missing the podium by a hair, the senior from Alexandria, Va., performed extremely well.
“Finally, I would like to mention cadet Matthew Moore, who competed as our drum major and impressed everyone he encountered,” added Warren. “In his six years at the Academy, the senior has been a tremendous part of the band, leading and conducting practices both in and out of the band room. His leadership has been instrumental in how every other band member preformed this weekend. We are all extremely proud of his performance and I know that he will continue to improve the band as it’s leader until he graduates.”
Below are videos of the 45th Annual Military Band Concert and the Drum Major Competition: