By: Jen Russon
In January, three tenth graders from J.P. Taravella are headed to Tampa to perform at the annual FMEA Professional Development Conference.
Matthew Flory plays the bassoon; Anthony Licata the euphonium; and Samuel Peaceman the clarinet; all happen to be good friends.
Held at the Tampa Convention Center, FEMA, or Florida Music Education Association’s Conference is one of the biggest musical events a juvenile performer can be invited to attend.
FEMA is host to 23 ensemble bands, including orchestra, chorus, guitar, and concert bands like the one Flory, Licata, and Peaceman belong to. World-class conductors and teachers attend the conference, evaluating students who made it this far and will now play under the scrutiny of a vast, live audience.
The boys’ performance will be viewed by more than 10,000 people, where students in Kindergarten through Twelfth grade are judged on their musical acumen.
“We’re all nervous,” said Flory, speaking for his two friends.
The boys’ teacher, Jonathan Cooper, the band director at Taravella, said he’s noticed the three young men take every opportunity they can get to hone their skills.
Cooper said all his students practice throughout the summer, choosing whether or not they want to audition for FEMA in September.
The auditions are taped recordings of students playing two contrasting pieces that show off major scales and prove their metal as site readers.
He added all three boys care about their craft and what it takes to create good music — so he has no doubt they’ll represent Taravella well.
“These students demonstrate very high levels of musicianship and dedication,” said Cooper.
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at Swallow Publishing, LLC.
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