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Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright

The May Festival

The high school music teachers in all of the towns along the shore of Lake Michigan, from Ludington in the north to Holland, about 30 miles south of Muskegon, had formed an organization to replace the spring band contests to which most of us objected. Instead of hiring judges to judge the quality of each band and rate them on a scale from I to IV there was to be no judging at all and the festival was to last for three days. We had planned at first to hold the festival in a different town each year but after the first two years, when the proceedings were in the Heights and in Hart, all of the festivals were held in Muskegon because of its central location and the extra large stage and auditorium. The first day was for high school choruses, the second for orchestras and the last day, always Saturday, was assigned to bands. Each individual group performed in turn during the day while the music students of the other high schools formed the audience, then, during the evening there was a performance by the festival chorus, orchestra or band, whose members were made up of the best players and singers picked from each high school. It was, naturally, an honor to be chosen for this group. A well-known musician was hired to conduct and rehearse it, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, conductor of the Detroit Symphony one year, for example (he was the husband of one of Mark Twain’s daughters.) The music to be performed was chosen a couple of months in advance by the music directors and sent to the selected students for practice. The Ludington bands and orchestras, directed by a man named Petersen, a Norwegian, were, during the first few years of the festivals, much superior to any of the rest of the high schools participating but after the Heights orchestra had reached full symphony instrumentation I am sure we were at least equal, if not superior, to all of the others.

Table of Contents
I Take Over the Heights Band and Orchestra, 1933
We Move Back to the Heights

Last modified on 16 April 2018 @ 23:31