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Four Wapakoneta teenagers had the opportunity to showcase their talent on the big stage and took it.
Four Wapakoneta High School band members participated in the 2012 Ohio Music Educators Association’s District 3 High School Honors Festival at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, in Van Wert, on Sunday.
Wapakoneta High School students Mutsuo Sasaki, Kimberly Kohler, Antonio Anderson and Julia Pepple were among a large number of area high school musicians who were selected to perform at this prestigious event.
The four were nominated by band director Klayton Hilleary. After nominations, the four tried out and were selected to be a part of this honor’s band.
“It was fun because I got to play with kids from other schools that were at the top of their game, too,” freshman Julia Pepple said.
The Wapakoneta group had three rehearsals with the other area members who were selected for the band at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center prior to the concert.
Pepple, who plays the trumpet, said the experience was a fun one.
“We worked hard,” Pepple said. “It was payoff for our hard work.”
Pepple was the fourth chair out of the 14 trumpet players in the band on Sunday and she is a part of the Wapakoneta High School Marching Band and an EMA Solo and Ensemble member.
Pepple said the decision to pick her instrument was quite simple.
“It was loud and it’s fun to play,” Pepple said of the instrument when she was introduced to the trumpet during middle school.
She also referred the instrument as the melody and that it can be the center of attention.
The four Wapakoneta members of the group had rehearsals that consisted of one 3-hour rehearsal and two 6-hour rehearsals with other students from school such as Allen East, Bath, Celina, Coldwater, Findlay, Fort Recovery, Minster, New Bremen, St. Marys and Parkway.
At their performance on Sunday, the group played Irish songs, a Bach tune and a march by John Philip Sousa, along with other songs.
For Sasaki, Anderson and Pepple this was their first time performing in this special concert, but it was the second time for Kohler.
She said she enjoyed her experience even more this time around.
“Overall, the people and making new friends was a lot better,” the senior said of the experience. “The director was very relatable, too.”
Kohler’s experience was enjoyable this time as she made new friends and also had an opportunity to talk with the director one-on-one.
She also noted it was neat to compare her performance this year to last year’s and to see how she improved.
“I think it’s cool to get it,” Kohler said of earning a spot in the band. “It’s just an honor.”
Kohler, who plays the French horn, said she loves her instrument, although it was not her first pick when she began band.
“I switched to the French horn from the trumpet,” Kohler said.
The decision to switch came from Hilleary in middle school, as he introduced to her the instrument.
“I love my instrument,” Kohler said.
Kohler was the second chair out of the eight French horn players on Sunday. She also is a member of the Wapakoneta High School Marching Band, Pep Band and an EMA Solo and Ensemble member.
“It was mind blowing,” fellow band member Sasaki said of the whole experience.
Between the long rehearsals, the senior shared his thoughts on performing.
“The performance was my favorite,” Sasaki said.
The clarinet player said that Hilleary gave introduced him to the instrument in middle school and the rest was history from there.
“He gave me a clarinet to play,” Sasaki said, when he was in fifth-grade trying out instruments that he would be interested in playing.
Sasaki, who is a member of the Wapakoneta High School Marching Band and Pep Band, was the sixth chair out of 16 clarinets at Sunday’s performance.
Anderson said his favorite part about being apart of the area honors band was similar to the other three members’ response — meeting new people.
“It was interesting,” the high school junior said. “I got to meet a lot of new people and I had a lot of fun.”
One challenge that Anderson had to deal with was adapting to their new band director, and his styles of conducting.
The trombone player was the eighth chair out of eight trombones on Sunday, and said he was introduced to the instrument in middle school.
“In seventh-grade I went to the tryout area and the teacher asked me what I wanted to play,” Anderson said. “I said I wanted to play the sliding instrument.”
His band director then told him about this instrument and that he thought it would be a good fit for Anderson.
Anderson also is a member of the Wapakoneta High School Marching Band, Pep Band and a member of Red Pepper, the back up band for the show choir Singsation and said his favorite part of the day is band practice.
“Band is the best class,” Anderson said, “because you are only there because you want to be there. You are automatically going to have a good time.”