Suffolk students perform at the Suffolk Center

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orchestra skills: From left, eighth grader, Brooke Mizelle; seventh grader, Ashton Headrick; and eighth grader Sami Gizara demonstrate their orchestra skills backstage at the Suffolk Public Schools Music Festival at the Suffolk Center for the Arts. The three are part of the Forest Glen Middle School Concert Orchestra that performed yesterday on the first day of the festival. The festival will continue tonight.

Student performers sang and played Wednesday night during practice of the Virginia Music Education Association’s district competitions.

The students performed at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts during the Suffolk Public Schools Music Festival. A second night of performances continues tonight at the center, 110 W. Finney Ave. All of the performances are free and open to the public.

All of the middle and high school music groups will have the opportunity to perform at the Suffolk Center during this event.

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“The Suffolk Cultural Arts Center is wonderful in doing this,” said Joleen Neighbours, chorus and drama teacher at Nansemond River High School.

On Wednesday, music groups from King’s Fork and Forest Glen middle schools and King’s Fork and Lakeland high schools performed at the Suffolk Center. The choir and orchestra groups performed two pieces.

“This is an opportunity for all of the musicians to enjoy, to come together and perform in a professional venue,” said Neighbours, who organized the event.

Neighbours got the idea for the event from the fact that there are so many events hosted at the Suffolk Center. She said that she thinks it is unfortunate that the schools rarely have the opportunity to perform for one another.

Hearing their peers perform gives student musicians something to strive for, while also enhancing the students’ judgment and criticism skills, Neighbours said. This event will give them that opportunity and will help them to achieve some of the Standards of Learning related to performing. Certain SOLs can only be achieved through public performance, Neighbours said.

This is the first of what Neighbours hopes will become an annual event.

“Hopefully this is the first of many,” she said. “I’d like to see this become a tradition.”

Thursday night, groups from John Yeates Middle School and Nansemond River, Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools will be performing. Each group will be performing two selections. Performances will include pop ensembles, ladies’ choirs, chamber ensembles, orchestra groups, a big band group and symphonic bands. The Starlight Orchestra, a citywide ensemble, will also be performing.