Students Foster New Musical Connections at MMEA Northeastern District Music Festival

At the wave of conductor Jason Noble’s baton, the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) Northeastern District Concert Band began performing David Maslanka’s “Illumination” in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall.

The MMEA Northeastern District Music Festival is an annual event held over the span of a week. Young musicians from Massachusetts went through a selective audition process that placed them into an orchestra, concert band, jazz band, or chorus group. Clarinetist Ashley Park ’24 described her learning experience through the audition process.

“I was required to play an excerpt of a clarinet solo piece selected by the judges and a few scales, including chromatic scales. There was also a sight-reading section where I had to read ten bars of music on the spot. It was very spontaneous, a good learning experience, and helped me improve my audition skills for the future,” said Park.

From Andover, 14 students were nominated to perform for the final concert last weekend. Saxophonist in the jazz ensemble Brandon Fu ’25, who auditioned and performed both last year and this year, explained his thoughts on the success of the performance.

“My favorite piece was ‘Nutville’ by Horace Silver. It was really fun, up-beat and exciting. It was extremely hard to pull off and it was our stretch piece. We managed to get it done and it sounded fantastic in the concert… I am proud of all of my friends and fellow bandmates. This concert was probably the best one I performed [in]… It was really cool to see a group of musicians push each other to a previously unattainable level,” Fu said.

Overall, performers stated that the MMEA Northeastern District Festival was an experience that not only improved their performing skills but also created an opportunity beyond campus to meet peers who shared similar interests. Fu encouraged Andover students to participate next year and mentioned his hopes for joining again in the future.

“I’d like to make it into this program for the next two years…because it’s a really fun experience and tests my discipline and readiness…If you’re even a little bit passionate about music, signing up for this [will be] a game-changer because you will be surrounded by a lot of like-minded people…Everyone should try it. If you don’t make it, that’s fine, it will have no impact on you whatsoever. But if you do make it, it will have an impact on you –– a very positive one,” said Fu.