Under the leadership of guest director, Dr. Brian Norcross, 114 students from 30 regional high schools in Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia County presented a concert of virtuoso proportion following the recent PMEA District 12 Orchestra Festival hosted at the Octorara Area School District.

Scott Cullen, host director from Octorara Area High School, acknowledged the honor to host such an esteemed group of musicians, especially Norcross from Franklin & Marshall College where he directs the Franklin & Marshall Orchestra, Philharmonia and Symphonic Wind Ensemble, in addition to the Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Music Society. He is a champion of new music and has directed over 50 premiere performances with various ensembles. Among his many distinctions, he is the founding Artistic Director of Allegro the Chamber Orchestra of Lancaster who is looking forward to their fifth season in the summer of 2006.

The student musicians rehearsed throughout the day Thursday through Saturday in the high school auditorium before entertaining family and guests during a Saturday afternoon performance. Only the most outstanding musicians have the honor of participating in the event and are selected through auditions.

The event was hosted by Scott Cullen, director of music education at the Octorara Area School District and was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educator's Association.

Since 1934 the Pennsylvania Music Educator's Association has been providing a tradition of musical excellence in education. An affiliate of Music Educators National Conference (MENC), the PMEA is a service organization that includes those engaged in music instruction at multiple levels. Any student enrolled in music education can participate. PMEA provides quality leadership in professional growth as well as expanded opportunities for musical development to school students.

Offering opportunities for students to perform in choral and instrumental festivals, earning credit toward certification, and encouraging excellence in the profession across the state, PMEA fosters a proud tradition of musical excellence.

Students participating in the festival were hosted by local residents and found time for a little fun and relaxation during a Friday evening social, following a 12 hour day of rehearsals.

Norcross introduced the concert by explaining that the defining moment of the students performance was after spending 20 hours of the last 36 rehearsing remarkably difficult music. Norcross assured the audience that the selection, Symphony No. 1 "Titan in D Major" by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), was not watered down for the high school students.

It was nearly a full house as the audience embraced the spectacular harmony of the music. Scott Cullen, Music director at Octorara expressed his envy in never having had a similar opportunity to play such a wonderful piece. Fifty-six students will move on to Region Orchestra Festival that will take place Feb. 16 - 18 at Pottsgrove High School.

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