‘Still speechless:’ THS Wind Ensemble performs AMEA Showcase for community

Published 4:55 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor 

ALABASTER – The Thompson High School Wind Ensemble received a standing ovation from the crowd on Tuesday, Jan. 23 after treating parents to a night of captivating performances during a free community concert.

Attendees enjoyed multiple performances during the AMEA Showcase at Thompson High School’s Performing Arts Center on Jan. 23 from 6-8 p.m. The free concert featured both the Thompson High School Wind Ensemble and Pinson Valley High School Percussion Ensemble.

“I think it went better than anyone could have expected,” said Graham Bennett, director of bands at THS. “It was really, really special and we’re just so blessed to have a place to do it and we’re so glad that we were able to still host and provide that opportunity for these students.”

Each year, the Alabama Music Educators Associations hosts a conference where bands, orchestras and choirs meet together and perform. The Thompson High School Wind Ensemble was selected to perform at this year’s conference that was planned for Jan. 18 in Huntsville.

“We were just super, super blessed to be selected out of the state for our ensemble to perform,” Bennett said.

However, the event was cancelled due to winter weather with no way to reschedule until next year’s conference.

Bennett didn’t want to leave things there and began contacting his cohorts in all three of the district groups to reschedule the performance. Pinson Valley High School was available to join and so the performance was rescheduled to Jan. 23 at Thompson High School so that the students could still perform and the experience could be shared with others.

The free concert was open for the public to attend and it was also livestreamed so that those unable to attend could appreciate it.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to perform but it’s also really, really inspiring as educators to see the product of our state,” Bennett said.

Bennett said it was a surreal experience to see the students perform the show firsthand after having worked with them.

“It’s one thing to hear a college band or professional play music, but to watch a high school band perform the level of music that they are performing, it just makes my heart sing,” Bennett said. “I expect a lot from the students and myself and our incredible fine arts staff at Thompson. (The) middle and high school push these kids to be the best versions of themselves as people and musicians.”

After the final note rang out, Bennett talked to the band to share his thoughts on how the performance went.

“I was speechless,” he said. “I just told them, ‘I don’t know what to tell you right now. You guys just blew it out of the water’ and I just told them how blessed I was (and) thankful I was that they allow me to stand in front of them and work with them every day and just watch them grow into incredible people. I’m still kind of speechless to be honest.”

Bennett shared that the band received a standing ovation from the crowd after the performance.

“I had many parents come up to me that I think their kids didn’t tell them what all was about to happen,” Bennett said. “It was almost like (they) were just shocked at how great it was. They knew it was going to be amazing, but it was another step above that.”

Bennett expressed his gratitude to the many individuals that made the performance possible, including, the Alabaster City Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, THS Principal Michael Lee, Associate High School Director of Bands Corey Hyman, Associate Band Director Rebecca Reinhardt, Director of Percussion Jamiah Robbins, Michael Giddens, Hannah Sizemore and Justin Fincher.

“They helped pull together an incredible makeup performance,” Bennett said. “They’re incredible and I am blessed again to work alongside them every day.”