I had heard rave reviews about the Palmetto Ridge High School (PRHS) WinterFest Concerts in the past but never attended until one lucky night this month that their performance date and my lack of another commitment coincided. It was just… wow! It was everything I had heard about and more! It may be a drive from Southern Collier County to PRHS, but is well worth the time.
We often hear comparisons to the past like, “When I was in high school, all we had was a band that only played at football games and I have no idea what they did the rest of the time. Practice, I guess.” Or, “I remember when our high school started talking about getting an orchestra started, I’m not sure if it ever happened.”
On the other hand, the array of musical talent at PRHS was stunning. Here’s a list of the various groups: Wind Symphony, Jazz Band 1, Concert Orchestra, Concert Choir, Symphonic Winds, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band 2, Symphonic Orchestra, and the Wind Ensemble. An added bonus was the amazing Auxiliary Team who performed during any transitions between performances, allowing the audience to enjoy even more Winterfest music.
Some of you are undoubtedly more musically knowledgeable than me and will recognize these titles and the names of arrangements, and I admit I know a few, but my enjoyment is to feel the music, appreciate the student artists and their level of expertise as high school students—it’s astounding how proficient these students are at their age, not to mention their obvious joy in the creative process.
Musical appreciation and programs in Collier County Public Schools start in elementary school with the belief in the importance of art, music, physical education and technology are facets of education that are important in developing the whole child. Educating the left and right hemispheres of the brain enable students to thrive and reach the pinnacles that interest them and, maybe down the road, are paths to professions and or past times/pleasures that are fulfilling. If only I had that opportunity from elementary to high school… I might be playing some instrument at Lincoln Center at this very minute or at Artis-Naples or be my own appreciative audience in my living room!
Some of the songs and arrangements at WinterFest Concerts included O Christmas Tree (arr. Les Sabina), Mary Did You Know (arr. Roger Emerson), Hanukkah Dance (arr. Matt Conaway), O Christmas Tree (arr. Les Sabina), It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (arr. John Moss), Jingle Bells? (arr. Marty Paich and David Steinquest), and An American Christmas (arr. Robert W. Smith).
Another enthusiastic performing group was the PRHS Drumline and Marching Pride followed by the Wind Ensemble/Symphonic Orchestra/Concert Chorus performing a Holiday Sing-Along to conclude the 2019 WinterFest Concert.
The amazing thing is that performances like these are happening in Collier County Public Schools from elementary students to middle schools and high schools. The range of abilities is vast and, thanks to the early exposure and appreciation for music, the students excel, win scholarships and further their careers from a spark lit as early as Kindergarten.
The desire to create and perform is fanned into lifetime professions, including those who become music educators in their own right, encouraging and passing on the same love of music that they cherished in their formative years.
Special thanks to all the music teachers at PRHS and our other Collier County Public Schools for their dedication and talent throughout the year. Your hard work stirs our emotions and builds connections with our students. I hear the distinct sound of applause!