William Byrd bands perform Spring Concert, participate in Dogwood Festival

Graduating seniors in the band traditionally receive Jefferson Cups at the Spring Concert.
William Byrd High School Band Director Dan Plybon presented awards to several students at their Spring Band Concert on May 4. Shown left to right are Peyton Wilmer, winner of the Director’s Award; Keira Naff, winner of the John Philip Sousa Award; and Michael Tingler, winner of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.

It’s been a busy few weeks for band students at William Byrd High School. The Marching Terrier Band participated in the Vinton Dogwood Festival Parade on April 29. That morning the Jazz Band performed a concert at the Vinton Farmers’ Market.

On May 4, the Jazz, Concert, and Symphonic Bands held their Spring Concert in the auditorium at William Byrd. Band Director Dan Plybon, who is in his 12th year at William Byrd, commended all three bands for their performances in the recent Roanoke County Concert Band Assessment. The Concert and Symphonic Bands received all Superior and Excellent ratings in what is an SOL-type assessment, complicated by playing as a group and publicly. The Jazz Band received all Superior ratings.

At the May 4 concert, the Jazz Band played three selections—“Moondance,” “Jeannine,” and “Shakey Ground.”

Jazz band members include:

  • Alto sax players: Elizabeth Hall, Grecia Hernandez, Chris Merchant, and senior Peyton Wilmer
  • Tenor sax: Sunyanna Anderson and Diana Damian
  • Trombone: Dane Blackwood, senior Chase Caldwell, and Joseph Johnson
  • Trumpet: senior Kasi Abell, Ethan Bowser, Jasmine Crawford, Rebecca Geisler, senior Brent Smith, Kaylee Tuck, and senior Jenna Wickham
  • Rhythm section: senior Paul Bushnell, Jayden Glass, Christopher Spano, senior Michael Tingler, and senior Garrett Walsh

Plybon presented the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for 2017 to drummer Michael Tingler, for outstanding achievement, superior musicianship, and character. He said that he first began working with Tingler when he was a third grader and “knew he was going to do something.”

The Concert Band performed “Brookpark Overture” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Members of the Concert Band include:

  • Flute: Josephine Brandimore, Diana Damian, Sydney Dietrich, K.J. Elmore, and Abigail Turner
  • Clarinet: Armonda Damian, Amber Johnson, Sky Meador, Olivia Robertson, and Caleb Speck
  • Bass Clarinet: Stephanie Stump
  • Alto Saxophone: Bryant Humphries
  • Percussion: James Buchanan, Nathan Ferris, Jayden Glass, Grayson Honaker, Samuel Caylor, Michael Lovell, Elijah Oltmanss, and Eric Oliver
  • Trumpet: Ethan Bowser, Jonathan Davis, Rachel Deatherage, Cameron Harshbarger, Kole Kingery, Brian McCormack, Rashad Vaughn, and Ethan Wood
  • French Horn: Mason Gunn and Eva Pierce
  • Trombone: Dane Blackwood, Sam Carner, Judson Crowell, and Colin Honaker
  • Tuba: Aimee Harrison

The Spring Concert concluded with performances of “At the Movies/The Classics,” “Lament and Tribal Dances,” and “Chorale and Shaker Dance II” by students in the Symphonic Band. The “Shaker Dance II” is based on the “Simple Gifts” tune which includes the lyrics (read by Plybon): “’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free, ’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.”

Symphonic band students include:

  • Flute: Sunyanna Anderson, Josephine Brandimore, K.J.Elmore, and senior Abigail Neidigh
  • Oboe: senior Keira Naff
  • Clarinet: Courney Cherry, Chlor Doss, Ashley Peters, Carmen White, and Kayleigh Wyatt
  • Alto saxophone: Brenna Donahue, Savannah Gheen, Richard Qiu, and senior Peyton Wilmer
  • Tenor Saxophone: Everett F letchall
  • Baritone Saxophone: senior Lindsey Mercer
  • Trumpet: senior Kasi Abell, Trinity Aneshansley, Jasmine Crawford, Rebecca Geisler, Caleb Rogers-Jones, Caleb Schaubach, Brent Smith, and Kaylee Tuck
  • French Horn: Piper Brown and senior Jenna Wickham
  • Trombone: Shea Sterling, Aalysa Stuckey, and Megan Wu
  • Tuba: seniors Brandon Martin and Seth Schaubach
  • Percussion: James Buchanan, senior Paul Bushnell, Samuel Caylor, senior Carmeron Kornegay, Aria Martin, Elijah Oltmanns, Jacob Speck, Alyssa Summey, and senior Michael Tingler

Plybon recognized Keira Naff, Megan Wu, Reece Bostic, and Seth Schaubach for auditioning and placing in the very competitive All-District Band, which requires them to play all major scales, sight read, and perform a prepared piece on the collegiate level, in a “huge district.” Naff has made All-District every year.

He presented the Director’s Award for 2017 to Peyton Wilmer, who has been “an outstanding student all year long.”

The John Philip Sousa Award was given to Keira Naff. This is one of the highest awards a band member can receive in high school, given for singular merit, cooperation, and conduct.

Graduating seniors received the traditional Jefferson Cups from Plybon and Geisler.

Plybon said that any band director would be proud of the Spring Concert performances and that he is more fortunate than most teachers who only get to “keep students for one year.” In many cases, he is able to work with students for five years.

He thanked the Band Boosters organization, commenting, “All band parents are Band Boosters,” and that “a band director cannot survive without a Booster Club.” He especially commended Band Boosters President Robin Geisler for her “unceasing work” and “doing the work of too many people” in the organization.

The Jazz Band will be holding a fundraiser concert, “Jazz and Pasta Night,” at Thrasher Memorial on May 26, which will include jazz band students in grades six through 12. Last year’s dinner was very successful— the first time the band had taken the traditional spaghetti dinner night off campus.