Two students headed to District orchestra


Mya Decker

Julie Norris and JJ Estep are the first Bellwood-Antis students to audition for District Orchestra.

Caroline Nagle, Staff Writer

For the first time in Bellwood-Antis history, the B-A band is participating in District orchestra.

The band now has two string instrumentalists, and violinist Julie Norris and cellist JJ Estep are vying for a spot in the prestigious all-star ensemble , which will be determined later this month.

At the end of her eighth grade year, Julie, a senior now, came to Bellwood from Hollidaysburg as the band’s only violinist.

“I am nervous because I have not actually played with only strings before!”  she said.

I am nervous because I have not actually played with only strings before!”

— Julie Norris

When she played for Hollidaysburg Julie was the fourth chair violinist, but this is the first time since she moved that she has played with another strings, let alone a full orchestra.

JJ moved to Bellwood in time for the beginning of this school year. He came from Altoona and is excited to be working with string instruments again.

JJ has been playing the cello since fourth grade, and he said this year his goal is to go to regionals.

PMEA District 6 District orchestra is an overnight festival where string students from the surrounding 11 counties play in an honors festival under a professional conductor.

To qualify for district orchestra, students don’t try out per se, but they need to meet Band Director Mr. Patrick Sachse’s expectations on performance tests, rehearsal behavior, and general academics. Mr. Sachse then submits the students paperwork to PMEA, the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, for official confirmation.

Mr. Sachse says he is not nervous about this new challenge of sending students to District orchestra; in fact, he is excited because Bellwood is now committed to co-host this festival in the future. Although the band does not have the staff to support a full and independent orchestra program, Mr. Sachse says “I am happy to have these string students included. They bring a great deal of talent and colorful tones to the band.”

The selection meeting for district orchestra is October 28 while the actual festival is January 10-12, 2019.