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Region's top band students put on all-star show

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:44 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Elizabeth Finley and Buddy Lynch shared both are juniors at Green High School in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and this year, they both were members of the top honor band at Marshall University's 12th annual Festival Band Weekend on campus.

The event serves as a sort of all-star band experience for the top high school band students from throughout the region, said Steve Barnett, Marshall's director of bands.

It's an experience Finley said has kept her auditioning throughout her high school career.

"It's very fun, and I love the directors here," Finley said. "It's my favorite festival to come to. It's always fun."

This year, Finley and Lynch accounted for two of the approximately 353 students from 65 schools throughout West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, who participated in rehearsals with guest conductors Friday in preparation for three concerts Saturday afternoon, Barnettt said.

"These students are the top performers in their schools, and we have three outstanding guest conductors," Barnett said. "I hope the students go back to their schools excited to teach their peers the thing they've learned at this festival."

Following competitive auditions, the students who were selected for the festival were sorted into three honor bands: The John Marshall Band, the Thundering Herd Band and Marco's Marauders Band.

The John Marshall Band was conducted by Robert W. Smith, vice president of product development and an exclusive composer for the C.L. Barnhouse Company and Walking Frog Records. He also teaches in the music industry program at Troy University in Troy, Ala.

The Marco's Marauders Band was conducted by Doug McCullough, band director at Beavercreek High School in Dayton, Ohio.

Mark Hardman, who is the director of bands at George Washington High School in Charleston, served as the guest conductor for the Thundering Herd Band.

Hardman said a lot of hard work from the students goes into getting to the festival, and he said he makes sure that hard work carries over during the short time the band spends together before performing at the festival.

"I have to say, it's exhausting, but it's gratifying," Hardman said. "In 24 hours, to go from start to concert -- well, there is a lot of progress that's made in a short amount of time. To see that progress though is amazing. You know what these students are capable of, and, if you set your expectations high, they will meet them."

Follow Lacie Pierson via Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.

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