PHS Wind Ensemble picked to perform at festival

Published 2:02 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

PELHAM – The accolades are rolling in for the Pelham High School band program as the Wind Ensemble was recently chosen to perform at an upcoming festival and band director Justin Ward was named the 2018 Outstanding Young Bandmaster of the Year by the Alabama chapter of Phi Beta Mu, a national fraternity of music educators.

Providing unique performance opportunities for students in Pelham High School’s band program is a top priority for Ward.

“I want to provide students with opportunities to display their talents and give them experiences they wouldn’t ordinarily have,” Ward said.

This year, the 50-student Wind Ensemble was one of eight groups selected to perform at the Music For All Southeastern Concert Festival in March 2019 in Atlanta. PHS was selected from hundreds of bands from throughout the southeast and is the only band from Alabama picked to perform. The other bands are from Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.

“I’m working on selecting the music they’ll perform in an hour-long featured concert,” Ward said.

In addition to the performance, the students will attend classes taught by professional musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and music educators from the University of Colorado, University of Minnesota and Georgia State University.

“We try to do a big performance every year – it’s been a gradual progression,” Ward said. “I’d like to start targeting national events in the future. These types of performances are hard to come by so you have to take it one step at a time.”

It’s Ward’s dedication to his students that earned him the Outstanding Young Bandmaster of the Year award.

“It was very much a pleasant surprise, but it’s the hard work of everyone involved that makes individual awards possible,” Ward said. “Individual awards, such as this one, are reflection of all the hard work put in by the students, our principals and the board of education. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of our administrators and the school board. This award is a reflection of the music education experience we’re providing at PHS.”