AYER -- Members of the Ayer Shirley Regional High School Concert Band and Chorus hit it big recently when they packed up their instruments and music, crammed into a bus and headed for Middletown, New Jersey for the 2018 Music in the Parks Festival at Middletown High School South.

This festival provides a year-end assessment by an outside panel and reinforces music skills that have taught, learned and presented by students and faculty.

Led by ASRHS Music Director Tim Ketterer, both the Concert Band and Chorus received First Place recognitions for the Class A, High School category, rating "Excellent" -- second only to 'Superior' (of which there were none given). Both were also given "Overall" awards in performance.

As part of this festival, experienced instrumental and vocal teachers act as adjudicators, offering suggestions on how to improve students' performances. Through the festival season, master teachers evaluate hundreds of ensembles, affording them a unique perspective that an individual teacher may not provide. Ensembles from all over the United States and Canada participate.

"It was such a great experience to put ourselves to the test and see how good we really can be," said senior Nadia Nalesnik. "You're really proud of what you accomplished, not so much for yourself, but because we did it all together as a team. Most of us aren't sports people, so being able to bring home a trophy to show off at our school for OUR wins is really kind of cool.



In addition to participating in the Festival the weekend of May 4, the group was able to spend a day at the Bronx Zoo, a day at Six Flags, and another in New York City, where they attended a performance of "Disney's Aladdin."