On Thursday, Jan. 26, Northwestern hosted the 23rd annual Northwest Iowa Honor Orchestra Festival, a concert that recognizes skilled student musicians throughout the Northwest corner of Iowa. Dr. Angela Holt, assistant professor of music at NW explained the procedure of how students are selected for the distinguished honor. “The festival involved more than 125 middle and high school aged student musicians who were selected through an audition process by area members of the Iowa String Teacher Association.”
A variety of outstanding and musically challenging pieces were played by students from across Northwest Iowa last Thursday evening. The Middle School Honors String Orchestra consisted of 60 students, while the High School Honors Symphony Orchestra consisted of 71 talented members.
The concert started at 6:30 p.m. in the Christ Chapel, where community members, parents and families and anyone with a love for orchestral music were encouraged to come and sit in on the concert. For an hour and a half, those on the stage and in the audience were able to share in the experience of the various compositions presented by the young players.
The festival is put on by the Northwest Iowa division of the Iowa Bandmaster’s Association. The association seeks to promote excellent in both middle school and high school bands through professional development, mentorship, performance and advocacy for students as well as educators.
The origin of this festival dates back to 2000, when the first festival was held in Le Mars, Iowa. That year, a mere eight regional schools were represented by middle and high school students. Since that first concert over 20 years ago, the event has gone through a lot of growth. In the most recent concert, over three times the original number of schools were represented in the performance.
This annual event continues to serve as an amazing and enriching opportunity for young musicians to be conducted by knowledgeable conductors as well as experience playing in an orchestra with other people who value the gift of music just as much as they do.