Pilot Rock, OR – On Wednesday, April 5th, the Tri-County Band Festival brought together nearly 100 students from small high schools in Umatilla, Morrow, and Sherman Counties. The event was hosted by Pilot Rock Jr/Sr High School in their gymnasium and featured a guest conductor, Dr. Stephen Friel, from Eastern Washington University.
The evening began with a warm welcome from Pilot Rock's music teacher, Jacob Try, who introduced Dr. Friel to the audience. The concert opened with bright tones from the brass section in a piece called “Velocity” composed by Larry Neeck. The students also performed “Colliding Visions” by Brian Balmages, “The Water is Wide” arranged by James Swearingen, and “Hsien” composed by Earl J. Fox, which featured a flute solo by Kaija Warren, a clarinet solo by Madison Palmer, and a trumpet duet performed by Jacob Finch and Daemon Worden. The evening closed with the rousing composition, the “Fairest of the Fair” written by John Philip Sousa in an arrangement by Larry Clark. Sousa was known for composing military marches, most famously “The Stars and Stripes Forever” which had similarities with the final piece. Between the pieces, Try acknowledged each participating school and its music directors, with the audience applauding each group of students and their home school’s directors in turn. Try noted, “I'd also like to give Dr. Friel a special shout-out for his marvelous directing approach and conducting style.” Adding, “We were very lucky to have a guest conductor of his caliber come out to lead our students.”
The participating school groups were from the Umatilla Vikings, Heppner Mustangs, Grant Union Prospectors, Weston-McEwen Tigerscots, Helix’s Griswold Grizzlies, Stanfield Tigers, Riverside Pirates, and Pilot Rock Rockets. After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Try noted the importance of this opportunity to bring music students and community from around Eastern Oregon together for this event.
"This festival was an incredible opportunity for our students to come together and create something truly special," said Try. "We are proud to have hosted this event and grateful for the support of our community and all the schools who participated."
To close the performance Friel remarked “Students, thank you so much for all of your preparation, all your hard work, and all your willingness to take suggestions and really work to achieve them.” He continued, “Directors, thank you so much for trusting me with your student’s growth. And parents, thank you for having your kids in band. Please keep supporting them because music enriches their lives.”
- Guest conductor Dr. Stephen Friel, from Eastern Washington University, leads the Tri-County Band on April 5, 2023.
- Dr. Stephen Friel conducts the Tri-County Band on April 5, 2023.
- Pilot Rock music teacher Jacob Try (left) and guest conductor Dr. Stephen Friel (right) on April 5, 2023.
- Jacob Try addresses the audience on the evening of April 5, 2023.
- The Tri-County Band Festival program.