Last updated 3:16AM ET
June 26, 2016
Local Features
Local Features
Madisonville-North Hopkins County High School Band Ends the Year on a High Note
(wkms) - It's been a good year for the band at Madisonville-North Hopkins County High School. The marching band has won four 1st place awards this year, including their seventh consecutive state championship. The symphonic band has been invited to play at Carnegie Hall in New York. Success like that takes practice and a solid musical foundation.

That musical foundation is one rooted in the band's leaders. Band Director Rob Bryant says they take a unique approach to teaching music that ties the middle school and high school programs together. He says,

"I have two assistant directors who are also the middle school band directors. And basically the way we make things work is I go assist them at the middle schools and then they come assist me at the high school."

He says that continuity between the schools makes sure the students are ready to play and compete by the time they get to high school. Bryant says the other part of the band's success comes from musical tradition he says was already present at the school when he started 10 years ago. He says,

"Madisonville-North Hopkins has got a great band tradition that dates back even before I came to Madisonville and that helps because you're not having to try to build a program from scratch. Everybody understands that it is demanding, it is time consuming, but at the same time it's also very, very rewarding."

And those rewards have come in droves this year for the band. Of the five contests they entered this year, the band won 4 of them, including their 7th state championship in as many years. The one they didn't win was the Murray State University Festival of Champions, where they finished 3rd out of 26 bands. Senior Trumpet Player Aaron Brewer says the disappointing finish at his favorite competition doesn't curb his excitement for other events, like a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall next February. He says,

"I'm kind of speechless. It's awesome because there's a ton of musicians who play professionally that can't even say that they performed there, and I'm gonna get to do it twice. So it's a pretty awesome chance, and I'm definitely ready for it."

Only six high school bands in the country receive the honor each year, and MNH will be the first high school band to be in the feature performance. Band Director Rob Bryant says that news was the high point of his year. He says,

"To me, just to get chosen to be in the festival was a tremendous honor, and then having the symphonic band then be chosen to be the feature showcase group is just through the roof for us. That's just a huge thrill we're gonna put on a 30 - 35 minute concert for all these different groups plus the public in Carnegie Hall."

For Bryant, one of the highlights of the band's performance will be the world debut of composer Stephen Melillo's piece, a Pasodoble for Saint Cecilia and the Heroes of Spain. He says he's been working with the composer to make it a special experience for everyone. He says,

"He's actually written an original piece for us to premiere and he's gonna fly in and conduct the band on his piece. So the kids will actually get to meet the composer, work with the composer, and actually perform with the composer on that piece."

But some of the most important people involved in making the Carnegie Hall performance and the competitions possible will never pick up an instrument. Bryant says the band boosters, who raise over $100,000 dollars a year to pay for travel and lodging for the band's 122 students are just as important as anyone else. He says,

"They raise tons of money for us, they provide all sorts of different services that we need and we could not survive without them as well."

When all those people come together for the Madisonville North-Hopkins High School Band, Bryant says they can be sure every year will be a great one.
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