BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro Union High School music department ensembles recently returned from a successful trip to Washington D.C.

From March 20-23, 111 student musicians and 11 adults traveled to the nation’s capital to perform at an adjudicated music festival. They also toured museums, monuments and memorials, and they saw a musical at the historic Ford’s Theater.

The band, jazz band, chorus and Madrigals all performed in a Heritage Music Festival which was held in the beautiful Performing Art Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. They were not competing against other schools, but were being rated by the panels of judges -- each of whom is a respected collegiate conductor.

The chorus, band and jazzband each earned "silver" ratings, indicating that the judges found the ensembles’ performances to be excellent (average scores between 80 and 89 out of 100). Madrigals earned a "gold" rating, indicating that the judges found theirs to be superior (average scores between 90 and 100). The concert band also earned the Outstanding Band trophy for being the highest scoring band (of any sort) at the festival, and the BUHS instrumental program received the Sweepstakes Award for having multiple instrumental performing ensembles each earning high ratings.

This particular festival had few bands in attendance and many more choral groups. Ensembles came from schools in Florida, California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Several BUHS musicians also earned individual accolades at the festival’s awards ceremony, held at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va. Junior alto saxophonist Ben Janis and freshman guitarist Gabrielle Walton both were recognized as outstanding soloists for their work with the jazz band. Senior trombonist Tyson Pond received the festival’s Ovation award which is given to a student who "represents that spirit of determination, inspiration and service to others that exists in all of us." Band director Steve Rice nominated Tyson for this award prior to the festival citing his remarkable perseverance and growth as a trombonist and dedication to the band and jazz band despite hardships. Each director had the chance to nominate a student but only one award was given.