Petersburg Pilot -


Music students shine in City by the Bay


Submitted Photo

Bud Bergen proudly holds his prestigious Maestro Award, received at the Heritage Music Festival in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bay Area has long fostered singers and musicians and last week Petersburg High School music students had a chance to experience the good vibes – and bring home two awards.

Music director Matt Lenhard, and five other adults escorted 46 Concert Choir, Concert Band and Jazz Band performers on a three-day, four-night journey to the Heritage Music Festival. There the students had an opportunity to perform and compete against about 800 students from seven other schools.

There were no other small schools represented, Lenhard said.

“The Heritage Music Festival is a great way for our students to be adjudicated (judged) before competing in the Southeast Alaska High School Music Fest in April,” he said. This year that festival will take place in Sitka.

Petersburg students not only had the opportunity to take part in the Bay Area music scene, but also to do some sightseeing.

“One day we went to Chinatown, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and ate at Hard Rock Cafe. They took a ferry around Alcatraz,” Lenhard said.

When it came time to compete, the Concert Choir performed at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto, and the Concert Band and Jazz Band both played at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

At the awards banquet, held at the Great America Theme Park in Mountain View, Bud Bergen, a junior, walked away with a Maestro Award.

“He was chosen for his excellent trombone soloing,” Lenhard said.

The 17-year-old, who started playing trombone in middle school, said he was in complete shock when his name was called to receive the award.

“I just had total goose bumps going up to accept that,” Bergen said. “Later at the hotel, I slept with the award like it was a teddy bear.”

The entire group was awarded the Spirit of San Francisco award. “It is awarded for the best representation of the community and school, and those who uphold the values of the festival,” he said.

“It's the one award there that I think all other schools think they are going to get each year. And little Petersburg, Alaska gets it,” he added.

The students were able to take the 1,700-mile trip by fundraising. “The students raised money in the fall with events like kelp gathering – they gathered kelp and sold it for $10 a bag,” Lenhard said.

There was also a cash raffle, according to Lenhard. “These are fundraisers that the community expects every year.”

This was Lenhard's second trip to the Bay Area with a group of students. The music program also got a chance to attend the Heritage Music Festival in 2010.

“The top thing that I took away from it was the feedback from the judges. Getting feedback and performing only makes you better,” he said.


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