By Nic Corbett
For ninth-grader Ryan Devlin, the songs he played for the all-county band this year evoked images of a sunrise, river commerce and the beauty of winter -- all-without words.
Although the sheet music the all-county conductors send to the students about three weeks beforehand came with background and interpretations of the songs, "part of it does come from kids' viewpoints, like from my viewpoint, of course," said Devlin, 14, who attends West Genesee High School and plays the trombone.
"It was a fun opportunity for a break from the ordinary band and to meet the other kids from the other school districts," he said.
The all-county junior high school festival on Jan. 28 joined the best student-musicians in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades from about 15 districts into a chorus, a band and an orchestra. It was held at Henninger High School.
Of the 300 students selected for the festival, 40 attend West Genesee schools.
"We do well," said Dave Perry, fine arts director at West Genesee high for the last five years. "West Genesee has a well-respected music program and we've always had a really good showing at the all-county."
The students practiced together for the first time Friday evening and Saturday morning, a total of about nine hours.
"It was a lot of practice, but it paid off," said Chelsea Sageer, a ninth-grader at West Genesee who sang in the all-county chorus.
"Most kids knew their music," Devlin said, but "it's a little difficult getting used to the other instruments, how their parts are."
Auditions for the all-county festival were held for two days in November. About 12 to 15 judges who are trained music educators came from within the county or outlying counties, but not from the schools that are auditioning, Perry said.