Newport students take prize at Ensemble Festival

Annie Lackey and Henry Giles, both sophmores at Newport High School, took first place in the 15-18-year-old category of a local ensemble festival, which took place on Nov. 10 at the Newport Performing Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Dan Predmore)

Young musicians from Lincoln County gathered at the Performing Arts Center in Newport on Nov. 10 for an Ensemble Festival sponsored by the local chapter of Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA). The pianists, 24 young people and two teachers performed splendid pieces like “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Star Wars scores, a Moszkowski Spanish Dance and classical composers Mozart and Diabelli. Playing in an ensemble requires precision skills in rhythm, articulations, phrasing, balance between melody and harmony parts. In other words, students develop listening skills.

Jill Hickenlooper, a pianist from Salem, adjudicated the three entrants in the competition section of the Festival. In the age 15-18 Division, Hickenlooper acknowledged both duets were nearly equal, but awarded Jacob Pockrus and Braxton King as alternates in case the winners in their division cannot make it to state. Jacob, a 12th grader, is the son of Jacob and Cristy Pockrus and has studied piano for 12 years. Braxton has studied for six years. He is also a senior and his parents are Jennie and Daniel Jagels. The ensemble of Henry Giles and Annie Lackey took first place in the 15-18-year-old Division with a movement from a sonata by Mozart. Lisa and Jeff Lackey are Annie’s parents. Richard Giles and Kristi Kind are Henry’s parents. Both students are sophomores at Newport High School and have previously competed in the Ensemble Festival.

The winners of the 12-14-year-old division are twins who have studied piano for 10 years. James and Kristine Orton played “Valencia” by Walter and Carol Noona, popular composers of beginning and intermediate level piano music. Their parents are Sean and Alesha Orton. The teachers of these students are: Jessica Treon, Mary Lee Scoville and Christine McKenney.

In order to participate in the Ensemble Festival, students must be studying with a teacher who is a member of the Oregon Music Teachers Association. There are other opportunities for students including the Ribbon Festival in March, syllabus exams in April and master classes with proficient and inspiring teachers from Oregon and beyond. In addition to being awarded ribbons, certificates and trophies, the students engaged in the study of musically gained life-long skills.

Those interested in providing music instruction for young — or young at heart— people can contact a member of the Lincoln County District of OMTA. Learn more online at: