Guitars and Grammys

Andrew York addresses the audience before conducting the group ensemble through his compositions.

Kylee Baines, Editor in Chief

On Friday, March 24th, Menchville’s Honors Advanced Guitar Ensemble hit the stage at Christopher Newport Universities Gaines Theater for Newport News’s 6th annual Guitar Festival. Ensembles from Woodside High-School led by Tony Mata and Kecoughtan High-School led by Mike Durig, Newport News Art Magnent Administrator John Boyles, and Grammy award-winning guest Andrew York were all in attendance. The day consisted of a large group rehearsal, and a concert conducted by York later that evening for family and friends.

Coordinating a majority of the event, Menchville Guitar Instructor Pete Mercier contacted York, whom he had previously met at a Coastal Rican Guitar Festival,  about conducting a group ensemble involving all of the local high-school guitar programs. York  is one of the worlds most renowned composers, conductors, and classical players. He was a member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and has over 50 works published for guitar: solo, duo, trio, quartet, and ensemble. He has also been awarded a Grammy Award for his work with the LAGQ’s track Guitar Heroes.

Students received arrangements of York’s most popular pieces of music: Lotus Eaters, Brajamazil, and Pop —months prior to the event in order to start learning them. On Friday,  participants got to know each other, ironed out difficult measures in the music, and rehearsed as a group for a few hours. The school ensembles also performed their individual selections for York in exchange for feedback.

Dubbed the “York Ensemble,” the groups hard work was then showcased in a public concert Friday evening.

The $3,500 event fee was  covered by donations from Community Knights Bingo program and fundraising from Menchville Rocks.