BFA Hosts Second String Festival

BFA String Festival 2022
Photo credit: Penelope Noza

BFA String Festival 2022 Photo credit: Penelope Noza

Patricia Noza, Writer

On Nov. 2, Bellows Free Academy hosted its second-ever String Festival since April of 2019. 

According to BFA music teacher Eric Bushey, the String Festival began as a way for string ensembles of the Maple Run Unified School District To practice and perform together. Due to the pandemic, there hasn’t been one since.  

Bushey said this time 10 schools were represented. Students from BFA, St. Albans Town Educational Center, St. Albans City School, Fairfield Center School, Missisquoi Valley Union High School, Swanton Elementary, Browns River Middle School, Mount Mansfield Union High School, Montpelier High School and Harwood all came together to work with guest conductors from around the state that day.

According to Bushey, the ensemble was split into three groups. The high school group was composed of ninth through 12th graders. This was all of the BFA ensemble, as well as students from Mount Mansfield, Harwood and MVU. There were also beginning and advanced middle school groups. 

Bushey said teachers throughout the district nominated students to participate in the event. In a few cases, the entire program of that school came.  Students would have to practice the music ahead of time with the string ensemble teachers of their school. Then, they worked with the guest conductor that was hired. Students practiced the whole school day and performed later that night.  

When asked about his opinion on the festival Bushey said, “These festivals are great because [students] get a chance to see students in other schools who are doing what they’re doing. You can also get friendships that endure and are connected through music.”

Lincoln Schweers (‘24) plays the double bass. He said he has played since seventh grade. He spends between 30 minutes to an hour practicing every day. Schweers also plays in the Vermont Youth Orchestra (VYO). This means he has three-hour rehearsals every Sunday and sometimes plays concerts. 

When Schweers heard about how many kids were coming to BFA, he said he was thrilled. “I’m the only bassist [in BFA], so I [was] excited for there to be more bassists to play with.”

Bushey said he wants people to know that through music, it’s easy to make friends because when you meet these people, you have things in common right away. 

“Sometimes your interactions with other schools are competing against them in a sports team. But in cases like this, you are collaborative immediately. You’re all in the same team working together,” Bushey said.