Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria offers a comprehensive music program that provides students with a unique experience. The group is led by Melinda McKenzie Hall and Dan Kosko, who encourage anyone who played an instrument in college to join.
The pep band and the jazz band are two additional ensembles that play for the school community. The Cheer Band performed for the Fall Homecoming Football Game and the Jazz Ensemble performed for residents of the Sunrise Senior Living Center in Old Town Alexandria.
The band’s program also includes the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a specialist level course that requires an audition. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the wind ensemble traditionally toured Europe every Easter holiday and commissioned works from many well-known composers. In the spring of 2019 the band traveled to Germany and in the fall of 2019 Ireton organized an exchange concert with the members of the German band, Blasorchester Heustreu, from northern Bavaria.
Although COVID-19 presented many challenges, students were able to perform virtually and even attended a talk by internationally acclaimed composer Mark Camphouse via Zoom. Because international travel is on hiatus, the music department is gearing up for a spring break trip to Universal Studios Orlando with a workshop at the University of South Florida. The band hopes to resume international touring in 2023.
To make up for lost time, the Ensemble à vents symphoniques had a busy year. The band had the opportunity to work with Colonel Donald Schofield, Commander of the US Air Force Band. Sixteen students and two alternates auditioned and were accepted into the District 10 All-District Band.
On March 4, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed in the District 10 Band Assessment at Hayfield High School and received the highest marks. This was Ireton’s first time attending this Virginia Band and Orchestra Director’s Association event.
“I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you and your students in congratulating them on such a wonderful performance this weekend during the District 10 VBODA Concert Band Evaluation,” said writes a judge. “I was thrilled to hear how you were able to stretch the band through many musical moments that I don’t think were flaunted by most in the district. The musicality of your students was indeed superior throughout the show! It was a humbling experience to enjoy. Hats off to you and to the students of the Bishop Ireton Orchestra.
This is a testament to the many talented musicians at Ireton and the dedicated parents and teachers who are the strength of the program.
The impact of music on students at Ireton can be seen throughout the school. “Creating music is a wonderful, meaningful experience unlike anything else we could do in high school,” said Aidan McNerney, a junior wind ensemble. “Music is an extraordinary subject that brings people together through the best and the worst of times, and Ireton’s music program is no exception.