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The Buckhannon-Upshur High School Marching Band / File photo by Brian Bergstrom

Take note: One-on-one with West Virginia’s All-State Band finalists at a B-U Family Christmas

TENNERTON – On Friday, hundreds of Buckhannon-Upshur High School students, staff, parents and supporters gathered for the second annual B-U Family Christmas event which featured the choir, orchestra, the B-U Soundwaves, the Rock Band, the percussion ensemble, the B-U Band and the Jazz Band.

Four of the musicians had recently been selected as West Virginia All-State Band finalists and My Buckhannon joined in on Friday’s fun and spoke with the four instrumentalists about their recently announced honor.

The four West Virginia All-State Band winners are Nathanael Griffith, Megyn Gould, Heather Hayes and Garrett Materne.

Nathanael is the son of Jim and Andrea Wagner of Buckhannon. In marching band, Nathanael said he plays tenor saxophone, although the instrument he got into the West Virginia All-State Band playing is the oboe. He said he tried out for the All-State Band because he really wanted to be selected and be a part of that experience.

“It is something I have always wanted to be a part of and something I always had my mind set to be a member of,” Nathanael said. “It is a big thing in West Virginia.”

Nathanael is a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and is in the B-U Marching Band, the concert band and the Jazz Band. Following graduation, Nathanael said he hopes to keep music as a part of his life.

“I hope to do some type of music therapy or do some private lessons,” Nathanael said. “I plan to go into the medical field.”

A senior at B-UHS, Megyn Gould is the daughter of Brad and Tonya Gould of Buckhannon. She plays the French horn, trumpet and alto saxophone in the symphonic band, concert band and marching band.

Megyn won her place in the West Virginia All-State Band on the French horn.

“I tried out for All-State because I thought it would be a good experience,” Megyn shared. “I did have fun trying out and am excited to have been selected.”

Megyn said as a member of the West Virginia All-State Band, she will receive her music in about two weeks.

“On March 2, 2023, we will go to Charleston with everyone who was selected, and we will have our performance on March 4, 2023, at the Clay Center,” Megyn said.

Following graduation, Megyn said she wants to go to college, where she hopes to minor in music.

Heather Hayes is a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, and she wanted to try out for the West Virginia All-State Band because she thought being around other musicians from throughout the state would be a fun experience.

Heather plays the clarinet in concert band and in jazz band she plays the tenor saxophone and alto saxophone. In the West Virginia All-State Band, Heather will play the clarinet.

Following graduation, she plans to attend college to study optometry and hopes to keep music as a hobby.

Garrett Materne is the final B-UHS instrumentalist selected for the West Virginia All-State Band. Garrett is a senior and plays the trumpet.

“I am a member of the concert band, the symphonic band and the Jazz band and a member of the concert choir and the B-U Soundwaves,” Garrett shared. “I wanted to try out for the West Virginia All-State Band because it is something all high school musicians strive to become a part of. I have been trying out every year in high school and put a lot of hard work and effort into making sure I was prepared for the audition this year.”

Garrett said following graduation he plans to attend West Virginia University, where he plans to study music education with the eventual goal of becoming a band director. He said he was inspired to pursue this career path by his mother, his current band director Eliza Taylor Blake, and former band director Garrett Friend.

Taylor Blake is the director of bands at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. She said all of her musicians have worked very hard this school year.

“It has been a very busy year and being a musician is a very demanding thing,” Taylor Blake said. “They have all accepted the challenge and excelled.”

Sixteen musicians auditioned to be a part of the West Virginia All-State Band.

“The preparation process for that is a huge endeavor in itself and the fact that we had four instrumentalists make the West Virginia All-State Band is a huge honor, especially for a band of our size,” Taylor Blake said. “It is a really exciting experience for students to be able to perform at the highest level in the state.”

She said to audition, students must play three pieces: two that are selected for them and one they select on their own. She said they perform in front of judges, and they must display skills such as chromatic scales; they are also required to sight read and play a piece during the audition.

“The actual West Virginia All-State Band happens March 2-4, 2023, in Charleston,” Taylor Blake said. “The performance will be at the Clay Center.”

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