Phoenix students star at Solo and Ensemble Festival

Phoenix S&E Contest

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On Tuesday, March 5, and Thursday, March 7, Phoenix Middle School Band, Choir and Orchestra students participated in Phoenix Middle School Solo & Ensemble Festival.

The event was originally scheduled for March 5th, but because the Band and Orchestra portions of the festival were in the afternoon, they were postponed to Thursday. However, even with the postponement, most scheduled students were still able to participate.

The students performed their solo or small ensemble selections before judges who critiqued their performances and worked with them to improve their skills.


The Band students worked with Lake Geneva Middle School Band Director May Ames. In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Ames is also a private trumpet teacher, composer and freelance trumpet artist in the Lake Geneva area. Throughout the festival, Mr. Ames worked with students on developing better tone and also bringing the artistry of music out through their performance. Mr. Ames was very impressed with the preparation of our band students.

Performers who received 1st Ratings were:

  • Emily Geffers – Flute Solo
  • Hunter Gebauer – Drum Set Solo
  • Ludens, Jada – Multiple Percussion Solo
  • Jesus Garcia – Drum Set Solo
  • Emily Graham – Flute Solo
  • Noah Smith – Clarinet Solo
  • Abbey Even – Drum Set Solo
  • Emilee Wellman & Maria Perez – Flute Duet
  • Claudia Zuniga, Ximena Morales, Racheal Bradley – Woodwind Trio

Performes who received a 2nd Rating were:

  • Anthony Medrano – Drum Set Solo
  • Tim Ipock – Drum Set Solo
  • Xhevat Tahiri, Carlos Altamirano, Ismael Coello, Israel Montelongo, & Harim Cano – Trombone Choir


The Choir Students worked with Mrs. Cathy Belcher, a respected retired Choir Director from Johnsburg, Ill. The students learned about vocal technique and loved her red hair!

Some vocal performers received a “critique only,” meaning they received a formal critique in writing, but not a score:

  • Noah Grams

Others received a rating and a score:

1at Ratings:

  • Rachel DeBow, Lily DeLaCruz, Hunter Gebauer, Carly Hopkins, Corinne Kastning, Dorian Miller, Torrie Noyes Jenny Perez, Hannah Santeler, Cami Torres, Bobby Zaratzian – Solos
  • Rachel DeBow, Lily DeLaCruz – Duet
  • Hunter Huber, Cami Torres – Duet
  • Jackie Perez, Jenny Perez – Duet
  • Bri Cardenas, Dezee Militello, Hallie Stirmel – Trio
  • Patick O’Connor, Hunter Gebauer, Tyler Nevala, Zach Torres-Raby – Quartet

2nd Ratings:

  • Isaiah Perry, Jackie Perez, Aria Bickett, Hallie Stirmel, Luis Ramos – Solos
  • Anna Sterken, Brittany Brandemuehl – Duet
  • Emily Geffers, Alicia Mandredini- Duet
  • Bobby Zaratzian, Luis Ramos – Duet
  • Haley Campbell, Destiny Marshall – Duet
  • Lexus Hubbard, Racheal Bradley – Duet
  • Torrie Noyes, Iyla Sankey, Michaela Hutchinson – Trio
  • Autumn Schauer, Kristin Hardwick, Hannah Santeler – Trio

3rd Rating:

  • Tamika Robinson – Solo
  • Jada Alexander, Mayley Miller – Duet
  • Brittany Sundberg, Aria Bickett – Duet
  • Zoe O’Bel, Mariysa Valadez, Pricilla Valadez – Trio


The Orchestra students worked with Mrs. Jean Dickenson. Mrs. Dickenson is a professional violinist, a private violin teacher and conductor of the Rock Prairie Youth Orchestra at UW-Rock County in Beloit.

She focused on giving students suggestions on how to improve their tone and intonation by using their best posture and playing position. She was impressed by what good listeners the Phoenix Orchestra students were as she worked with them, and how willing they were to try new techniques.

The Orchestra performers were 6th graders who received a “critique only,” meaning they received a formal critique in writing, but not a score.

  • Zach Lodder, Jason Hartman, Logan Reeves, Hope Robinson, Lindsey Robertson, Payton Ross, Eliberto Gomez – Violin Solos
  • Sean Seitz, Amy Beals – Viola Solos
  • Tori Rhone – Cello Solo
  • Andres Garcia, Jeremy Brown, Joseph Skilling & Will Holmes – Violin / Viola Quartet
  • Madisyn Jeske & Mackenzie Janisch – Violin Duet
  • Esmeralda Castaneda, Monserath Ruvalcaba & Cristian Avelino – Violin Trio
  • Jordy Perez & Alejandro – Cello / Bass Duet

7th & 8th Graders received a written critique and a score.

  • Alexandra Gonzales & Alyssa Gonzalez – Violin Duet (1st Rating)
  • Erin Sorg, Dezee Miller, Kali Anditon, Hallie Stirmel & Bri Cardenas – String Quintet (2nd Rating)
  • Meghan Roum, Payton Hintz, Jenna McKinney – Violin / Viola Trio (1st Rating)
  • Alyssa Gonzalez, Makayla Graham, Lily DeLaCruz – Violin Solos (1st Ratings)
  • Maddie Krablean & Julien Riviere – Violin/Viola (piano) Duet (1st Rating)

The strongest performances of the Festival were asked to encore their selections at the Music In Our Schools Month Recital at Phoenix Middle School on Thursday, March 14th at 7 p.m. in the Phoenix Auditorium.

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