Delaware musicians look to perform for community, inspire next wave at All-City Concert

Hayes performers get to showcase skills to audience, but also set example for younger musicians.


Carter Sims

Members of the band rehearse before the All-City Concert performance on December 15.

Carter Sims, Staff Writer

As temperatures drop, trees are lit, and wishlists are made, the holiday season arrives in Delaware. Many traditions come with this festive time of year, but perhaps none more musical than the Delaware City Schools All-City concert. 

The event features musicians in all levels of the program, from 6th graders in the early stages of learning their instruments, to Hayes performers refining advanced skills.

The Hayes band program is fresh of another Superior rating at OMEA State Competition, the second year in a row the Pacers have received such honors.

Not 5 weeks of practice later, the musicians have shifted gears and are prepared to showcase their talents in the large group setting.

“Throughout the marching season, Mr. Fowles has been telling us how excited he is to start the symphonic season,” sophomore trumpet player Caden Wiant said. “I think going into it, we were all very excited to play the music.”

The transition from marching to concert season has been quick, but the return to the group setting has been welcomed by musicians like junior trombone player James Button.

“It’s been nothing but a great time,” Button said. “Just hearing that big band sound again always has some sort of feeling to it.”

The big band sound is the hallmark of the all-city concert, but for Button, fond memories of this event trace back to being part of an ensemble that wasn’t so “big.”

“I remember from my all-city middle school experience, when I was in the presence of a high schooler, I thought they were just the coolest people,” Button said. “Being able to look up to someone both figuratively and literally means a lot to you as a young musician, but now being a high school student I love seeing those middle schoolers looking up to me.”

The all-city is the first chance to perform in front of the community for 6th-grade band members, and can be a pivotal moment in their musical career in Delaware.

Wiant echoes Button’s thoughts of the event and the importance the night has for the beginning players, and he recalls his own experience at his first concert.

“We [had] just finished our songs, and we were sitting at our spot in the bleachers,” Wiant said. “When the symphonic band played their piece, I was completely blown away. From then on, I knew that was where I wanted to be.”

Now a member of the Hayes Symphonic Band, Wiant has the opportunity to pay it forward.

“Everyone is nervous for their first concert,” Wiant said. “But I’m sure they are going to do incredible things. I hope the 6th graders are going to be able to learn from this experience. Take something out of it, whether it be from other bands, or listening to their own band for the first time in front of a crowd.”

From a performance standpoint, the symphonic band has selected two pieces to play at the concert, a collection that members like junior trombone Gavyn Schooley are excited about playing.

“We have a really slow, melodic piece that’s all about tonality,” Schooley said. “It’s a really beautiful combination of Taps and Amazing Grace called Safely Rest. It’s just a really pretty piece. Then we have a really fun version of ‘Up on the Housetop.’”

Like his classmates, Schooley said he appreciates the opportunity to see the young group of musicians. 

“What’s really cool is every year you get to see the new band members,” Schooley said. “Obviously they’re 6th graders and not the best players, and it’s really funny to watch that because as a 6th grader I really thought I was the best one here. Now it’s like ‘Oh my gosh, what am I watching?’ because they have some really good things, they just need to lock in musically, and it’s interesting seeing it now.”

The concert features grade-level bands from the middle school and Hayes’ concert and symphonic groups, but also includes jazz and combo bands, an extra commitment many musical students have taken up. 

“There was actually a really big interest in jazz band this year, and we had about 50 people show up for the first day,” Schooley said. “So we’ve split it up into Group A Jazz Band and Group B Jazz Band, and I think it’s a little based on experience.”

Regardless of the age group, gathering the members of the program to perform for the community, but also the future of the band, has become a vital event for DCS.

“That’s what I’ve always loved about the all-city performance, those bonds you make with other musicians,” Button said. “That’s always been one of my favorite memories.”