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Students at Spring Bi-County Fest again make beautiful music together

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ADAMS — Stage light reflected off clarinet and oboe keys. It flashed off flutes and brass horns, while each instrument emanated a crystal clear sound under the direction of two hands.

Young musicians took center stage Saturday afternoon at South Jefferson Central School, where they showcased their talents at the Spring Bi-County Festival.

The event, sponsored by the Jefferson-Lewis Music Teachers Association, was a collaboration of 77 high school band members and 125 high school chorus students from 14 districts in Jefferson and Lewis counties.

The concert gives students many opportunities. They can safely step out of their comfort zones and perform with others who are equally as talented because "students who make it to Bi-County are talented kids," said Charles R. Heck, Indian River high school band director.

"It's an honor to play here," he said. "When they come to Bi-County, they're all good and they have a chance to work with other kids that are the same caliber of musicians."

The preparation is intense. The repertoire is decided no more than six weeks before showtime.

"It's an amazing deadline," said Daniel Mosher, head of the New York State School Music Association. "Every school prepares their own kids, then they get about 10 hours to practice as an entire group."

The students who played in Saturday's concert were selected by the Music Teachers Association based on the solo scores they earned from the previous school year and a recommendation from the school's music instructors, said Helen M. Timerman, president of the association.

"Music fills a niche," she said. "It helps some kids make personal achievements. They work together for a common goal of the production."

Benjamin A. Taylor, a trumpet player for Carthage High School, said the opportunity to play with students from other schools is one of the more exciting aspects of being involved in the concert.

"Hopefully, everybody can come together and be inspired," he said, "and have a good sound."

Mr. Taylor is a junior at the school but has played in a number of Bi-County festivals, he said.

For Amanda L. Schultz, a senior at Belleville Henderson Central School, Saturday's concert was the final large-scale concert in which she will play the flute.

"I've been playing in these concerts since I was in sixth grade," she said. "I guess it hasn't hit me yet that it's my last one."

Melvin Chalker, a choral music teacher at Carthage High School, said he looks forward to the concert each year.

"They get stretched musically and that allows them to be challenged," said Mr. Chalker, who has worked with students who play at Bi-County for 25 years. "It's just a matter of getting together and making music with other kids."

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