On Martin Luther King weekend, 19 Ridgefield High School students were accepted (and 17 participated) in The Connecticut Music Educators Association’s (CMEA) Western Region Festival. RHS’s music program sends many performers each year. This year marks the most number of RHS musicians accepted into the festival in the past decade at 19, with 57 students auditioning.

Western Regionals Festival is a program that brings together talented musicians from the Western quadrant of Connecticut to participate in a fun, intense festival that nurtures and enhances both musicianship and music education. “As always, we are so proud of our students’ outstanding efforts and achievements,” said Michael McNamara, orchestra director at Ridgefield High School. “We are blessed to be in a town that supports the arts in education. It’s created a wonderful culture that I am proud to be a part of.”

New Band Director George Beratis added, “I am having such a great time with the kids here in Ridgefield. One thing that was immediately apparent is how seriously the kids take their music, and their sense of community. They really care about each other.”

The students participating in the festival must pass a rigorous audition that involves technically challenging solos and etudes. CMEA hears more than 1,200 auditions for Western Regional High School Festival annually. Once the audition is passed, participating members are given collegiate and professional level repertoire to learn on their own. The festival is a two-day weekend event in which the students rehearse all day for two days with nationally renowned conductors, culminating in a concert at the end of day two. This is similar to the experience a professional musician would have participating in an intense concert cycle with minimal rehearsals.

To learn more about the RHS music program, visit ridgefieldhsmusic.org. To learn more about advocacy and support group Ridgefield Music Matters, visit ridgefieldmusicmatters.org.