Wilton High School music students spent the past weekend attaining the apex of their year’s musical experience, attending their annual Music Adjudication Field Trip. Their destination was the Spirit of America Music Festival at Towson University, just outside Baltimore. Wilton’s musicians received some of the highest ratings possible after performing for judges and being assessed according to national standards,

All of the Wilton performing groups were scored on an established national scale, with five levels of ratings:  Superior, Excellent, Very Good, Good and Fair.

The judges were extremely impressed with Wilton’s performances and the scores reflected accordingly. Wilton stunningly garnered Superior ratings for eight of its 10 groups that performed, and the other two were awarded Excellent ratings. All four Wilton High School Choral groups received the highest Superior rating. The scores were as follows:


Jazz 1:  Superior
Jazz 2:  Excellent
Concert Band:  Excellent
Concert Orchestra:  Superior
Symphonic Orchestra:  Superior
Wind Ensemble:  Superior


Bottom Line:  Superior
Chamber Singers:  Superior
Concert Choir:  Superior
Madrigals:  Superior

Judges also singled out distinguished performances by 12 Wilton individuals or group sections.

In addition to being scored, the students were joined onstage at the conclusion of each performance by one of the judges who held a clinic and helped the students fine tune their performances.

While that part of the trip was academic, the students also got to play tourists. Their first destination was the 27th floor observatory of the Baltimore World Trade Center, where they enjoyed a private, panoramic 360-degree view of Baltimore through expansive windows that frame the Inner Harbor, the surrounding city and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay.

They then descended a few floors where they enjoyed a “Party in the USA” patriotic dinner/dance. The kids partied the night away against the backdrop of the Baltimore skyline, before heading to their Inner Harbor hotel.

The next day, the group headed to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, the site where Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Wilton students were invited to participate in Fort McHenry’s Flag Raising Ceremony, where they unfolded and surrounded the Fort’s gigantic stars-and-stripes, and helped raise it to the heavens.

Then, the 260 students–all groups of band, orchestra and chorus–joined together on the scenic shores of the adjacent Chesapeake Bay to play the National Anthem, at the very site where it was inspired. Wilton parents, and non-Wilton onlookers alike, with caps off and hands over hearts, were genuinely stirred by this meaningful rendition. [Performance begins at 10:25]

video courtesy Bruce Likly

From Fort McHenry, the students traveled to Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, MD, spending a sunny, five-plus hours in the park, before heading to hear the results from Festival organizers. Wilton was praised by the organizers for their entire music program.

While the spectacular scores were all met with thunderous applause from the Wilton contingent, the loudest applause was reserved for someone who isn’t a student. The noise was deafening when the Festival Company singled out the music directors by name, specifically when the name of Wilton music director John Rhodes was announced. The students rose in unison to applaud Rhodes, who is retiring at the end of this school year, and they continued standing beyond the bows he took.  The Awards Ceremony ended with Nick Loafman, WHS’ Fine & Performing Arts instructional leader, once again calling out Rhodes and thanking him for his 42 years of dedication to Wilton music and Wilton students.  The students once again rose to Rhodes taking his due bows.

After the Awards Ceremony, the students began the five-hour journey back, piling into buses and pulling in to the WHS parking lot shortly after 1 a.m.. The students were exhausted, but flush with special memories from two amazing days with their musical high school family.

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photos:  Carol Barbour and Laime Hattenbach