WPHS Presents: Festival of Sound


It’s that time of year again when over three hundred student musicians will present the 20th Anniversary performance of the Wheeling Park High School Festival of Sound concert. The much-anticipated annual event opens on Thursday, December 11, at 7:00 p.m. with additional performances on Friday, December 12, at 7:00 p.m. and then again on Sunday, December 14, at 2:00 p.m. in the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center on the campus of Wheeling Park High School.

A variety of music will be featured from the worlds of pop, Broadway, television, wind band, classical, jazz, as well as Hebrew and Christian sacred traditions. This year’s show promises the best of the season!

Photo by Gabriel Wells

20 Years of Success? The Students!

The Music Department of Wheeling Park High School is “together again… for a reason,” and that reason is a spectacular one. For two decades, the Festival of Sound has featured a wide variety of professional-level performances that have amazed Ohio Valley audiences and the event continues to be as popular as ever. What is the reason for twenty years of success? It’s simple: the students. The students represent a collaborative nature of learning that is common at Wheeling Park High School. Many of the FOS performers are active in competitive sports, theater, speech and debate, student government, clubs, school to work initiatives, and a wide variety of their own music ensembles outside the school day. This environment at Wheeling Park isn’t just in the Music Department, but incorporates teachers, coaches, office staff and administration throughout the school.

It’s an approach that is as old as the Festival of Sound.

“We have something special here that gets its start in the earlier grades. The middle schools, in particular, are the grounds for developing student music leadership and collaboration. At the high school level, it’s all about supporting the students in that endeavor,” said David M. Alfred, the WPHS’s Band Director. He adds, “And, we cannot overlook the importance of a good music education particularly in the primary grades. That is what ensures success for us ten years down the road.”

While the community looks forward to this event each year, it is also a personal thrill for current students, their families and past participants. A recent Facebook post advertising the event drew hundreds of hits from across the country in less than a week.

“With this being the twentieth year, we are looking forward to seeing alumni come back to see the show, many of them now with children of their own. It is our hope that the Festival of Sound will still be alive and well when their children get here,” said Gladys Mitch, Choir Director at WPHS.

Senior Cristin Dolan stated, “I’ve been around FOS for years with my older sisters being in the Music program at Park. Finally, being a senior is an incredible experience and this year’s show will be one of the best yet.”

Senior Ike Tan adds, “This department is kind of like a family. On stage is pretty much a bit of organized chaos but we work it out and it ends well!”

What’s the Line-up?

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Assistant Choir Director Christie Curley, the newest music staff member at WPHS, thinks that some of the fun of FOS will be watching students move from one performing group to another. “We literally have individual students performing in 4 or 5 different ensembles. That’s a tremendous level of commitment and musicianship!” Student teacher Anthony Panebianco noted the quick pace of action in the Music Department after his first week at WPHS. “There is a lot to do and the students are going different directions almost all the time. This is an exciting place to be.”

Ensembles performing during the 2014 Festival of Sound include Park’s Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Percussion Ensemble, and Steel Drum Band. The Wheeling Park Orchestra and String Ensemble along with the Festival Choir, Young Patriots, Voices of Freedom, and Men’s Ensemble will also appear during the performance.

The collaborative nature of the students doesn’t just play out across the school- it’s the focus of the Festival of Sound shows. Long-time Orchestra Director Ben Podolski’s philosophy is, “We teach so much more than music, and the students teach us as well”. Because of this interaction, FOS seems to keep getting better with age.

In yet another collaborative endeavor, WPHS’s award-winning Speech Team members serve as Masters of Ceremony.

Many hands …

Directors of the Festival of Sound are David Alfred, Seth Bell, Christie Curley, Gladys Mitch, Benjamin Podolski, and WLU student teacher, Anthony Panebianco.  It’s important to note that the event doesn’t come off without administrative support and a host of parent and alumni volunteers, who do everything from preparing programs and stuffing envelopes to chaperoning and ushering.

“There is just no way we could do a professional-level concert like this without the efforts our dedicated volunteers behind the scenes,” explains Mitch.

The Fantastic Venue

While the Festival of Sound is twenty years old, its home is relatively new. The show is housed in the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art, 1200-seat performance theater on the campus of Wheeling Park High School. The venue features dress-circle seating, a mezzanine and two galleries. An elevator is available, as well as restroom facilities on every floor.

Dr. Dianna Vargo, superintendent of Ohio County Schools, proudly welcomes the audience again this year, “The magical sounds of music can be heard this holiday season at the Wheeling Park High School Festival of Sound.  A special thanks to our talented students and dedicated teachers for this wonderful event.”

Logistical Information

Thursday, December 11, at 7:00 p.m.;   Friday, December 12, at 7:00 p.m.;  Sunday, December 14, at 2:00 p.m. –  J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center on the campus of Wheeling Park High School.

Tickets for the performances are now being sold in the Main Office at Wheeling Park High School. Tickets may be purchased from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on school days through December 11. Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for students. Seating for each show is limited. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets early as all seats are general admission. We cannot guarantee tickets for purchase at the door.

Doors will open one hour before each show. There is handicap-accessible seating available as well as handicap-accessible parking with drop-off in front of the center. Parking for the general public may overflow to the back parking lot where patrons will have the option to walk through the building or ride a shuttle bus around to the front entrance.