By LISA CAPOBIANCO
The Southern Regional Middle School Festival Jazz Band and Chorus will welcome two faculty members of the Plainville Community Schools’ Music Department this year.
Todd Helming of the Middle School and Dominic Talotta of Plainville High School have been selected to conduct the festival, which will take place Feb. 28 to March 1. This will be their first time conducting the festival, which is composed of the top student musicians from the southern region of Connecticut. Both Helming and Talotta were selected by a committee of their peers who seek the best directors from the state as well as the northeast.
“It is such an exciting experience and an honor to be selected,” said Helming, who teaches chorus and general music.
“It’s very exciting,’ added Talotta who teaches concert band.
In preparation for the festival, both Helming and Talotta chose a selection of music which the student performers must memorize. Rehearsals involve extended practice hours as well as shorter preparation time, and some students musicians may be performing together for the first time.
“It is certainly somewhat of a challenge,” said Talotta, adding that he chose tunes with a few different levels of difficulty.
Helming said he chose a combination of his favorite pieces, along with his students’ favorite pieces. His strategy involves having every part memorized and to anticipate where the performers may find difficulty in the selected piece. Helming said not knowing how the student performers will sound serves as the biggest challenge for conducting the festival. As a result, conducting the performers will involve improvisation.
“I have to create that plan in the moment,” Helming said, adding that the end goal is knowing what he wants the piece to sound like.
Although the festival will be challenging, Helming and Talotta said they look forward to working with the student performers who all auditioned for the event. They hope the students will not only come prepared, but also to enjoy the musical opportunity that the festival brings.
“I’m hoping they will have one of the best musical experiences of their lives,” said Helming, adding he hopes the student performers will also connect with the music emotionally.
“Kids that are driven can do really great things in a short amount of time,” Talotta added.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@SouthingtonObserver.com