Perkiomen Valley bands to team with West Chester Wind Ensemble

The Perkiomen Valley High School Wind Ensemble playing at the state capitol building in Harrisburg. (Submitted PVSD photo)

GRATERFORD - Perkiomen Valley Middle School will partner with an area university to debut a brand-new musical composition.

Perkiomen Valley band students from both middle schools and the high school will play 'Danse Ritmico' for the first time anywhere alongside the West Chester University Wind Ensemble April 13.

'It's going to be a real fun day for my wind ensemble,' said Andrew Yozviak, the piece's composer and the director of bands at West Chester University.

The free concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Perkiomen Valley Middle School East's auditorium.

'Danse Ritmico' was composed for the Perkiomen Valley students through donations honoring Hannah Manieri, the sister of Perkiomen Valley Middle School West alto saxophone player Shane Manieri. Hannah Manieri died before she was born.

Patty and Kevin, Hannah and Shane's parents, donated $1,000 to the music program, which was combined with a $1,000 grant from the Perkiomen Valley School District Foundation.

Jessica Lester, Perkiomen Valley's manager of school and community engagement, said the Manieris make their donation 'on behalf of other children as a way to keep her alive and to show their appreciation for the gift of their son, Shane.'

The director of Perkiomen Valley Middle School West's band, Dawn Krown, 'impressed' the Manieris 'with her work,' according to a press release from the school district, making the music program the recipient for the Manieris' annual donation.

'The students and I get more excited each day,' Krown told the Mercury. 'As the debut gets closer and our rehearsing of 'Danse Ritmico' becomes more refined, there is a palpable air of excitement in the band room.'

Yozviak has arranged more than 150 marching band shows over his career for various high schools, universities and drum and bugle corps.

He described the piece, which he wrote to include specific sections to cater to the Perkiomen Valley students, such as their large percussion program.

'This piece is based on some dance rhythms. It's very heavily percussion-orchestrated,' Yozviak said. 'We wanted to make sure we had some good opportunities for those kids. Take some basic dance rhythms and superimpose some melodies overtop them.'

Krown is 'thrilled' students across the district will get to work with Yozviak.

'In my 25-plus years as a music educator, not to mention my time as a student musician in public school and college, this is my first experience with a commissioned piece,' Krown said. 'Dr. Yozviak is an amazing musician, talented composer and dedicated educator. I'm thrilled that the Perkiomen Valley band students in grades seven through 12 will get to work with him.'

Yozviak said the concert and collaboration will serve a 'dual purpose.'

'One, we get to play in a fantastic venue off-campus, which is something we don't do a lot,' he said. 'It also affords my students an opportunity to work with younger students because so many of my students are going to be moving on to teach music.'

'Literally mix(ing) in' among the Perkiomen Valley students will provide a new experience for his students, according to Yozviak.

'It'll be a real interesting situation that they don't perform in very often,' he said.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.

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