Andy Morrow has a very busy conclusion to his first school year in Vernonia.
Morrow, who took over this year as the Vernonia band instructor, was preparing the Vernonia High School Band for their next Band Festival on April 16 in Clatskanie. This performance provides the VHS Band with their final opportunity to qualify for the state band competition. The Vernonia Middle School Band is also practicing for their District Festival on April 22 in Forest Grove.
“Most everything happens at the end of the year, which is both good and bad,” says Morrow. “As everything else at school, like testing, is coming to an end, we’re just ramping up.”
Morrow also has the upcoming VHS Band Spring Concert, which will be held on Monday, May 5. This concert will be very special as it features the return of former Vernonia band instructor Rob Izzett who will be co-directing a joint performance between the VHS Band and his Mazama High School Band from Klamath Falls.
The VHS band will also perform at the graduation ceremony on May 31.
In addition to all the upcoming band performances, Morrow says he has two individual students, senior Sarah Wagner on the tuba and freshman Kaitlyn Eyrrick on the clarinet, who will play in the “Music in May” concert, a three day event which Morrow describes as an honor band were the students will play in a band, be critiqued on their performing and also receive some private lessons.
In addition, Morrow says senior Jacob Medearis just won the District trombone solo and will compete at the state solo contest on May 3 at Lewis and Clark college. “Jacob is doing some really good work,” says Morrow.
First year instructor Morrow has a Bachelors Degree in Music and a Masters in Education from Portland State University. He has had previous teaching experience working with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra. He plays the trombone as his main instrument.
Morrow is hoping the VHS Band can score high enough at their Band Festival to qualify for the state competition on May 16 at Oregon State University. The VHS Band has qualified for state the last three years in row under Izzett’s direction, winning first place in 2012 and finishing third last year.
For the High School Band Festival, Morrow has his thirty-three band students working on three pieces of music they will perform. The first is “English Folk Song Suite” by Ralph Vaughn Williams; the band will just play the first movement of this piece. Next is “On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss” by David Holsinger, a slow ballad which Morrow says is difficult to play in competition because it is easy for the judges to hear mistakes in the performance. “You can hear every single instrument so if there is a wrong note or a wrong rhythm it stands out,” says Morrow. “It’s really about the phrasing and how the music is moving-if anything is wrong it’s really easy to pick out, so it’s a tough piece.” The final piece is “The Light Eternal” by James Swearingen. Morrow says this piece has an interesting background story: The music is about a warship in World War II that was sinking and is a tribute to the three chaplins who stayed on board who went down with the ship after giving solace to the many other ill fated sailors. According to Morrow, Swearingen added parts of old hymns into his musical piece.
As you can see it is a very busy spring schedule for Morrow and all of his Vernonia band students.