Schoharie Valley Concert Band

Music - Life-Long Appreciation

2020 Donald Webster Solo Festival Winners

Heather Black Rachel Zeh Paul Munson
The winners of the 21st Annual Donald Webster Solo Festival from l. to r.: Heather Black (Grade 6-8, Alto Saxophone), Rachel Zeh (Grade 9-11, Flute), Paul Munson (Senior, Percussion)

On February 1st the Schoharie Valley Concert Band (SVCB) sponsored its 21st annual "Donald Webster Solo Festival" to recognize outstanding middle and high school instrumental musicians. The annual festival is open to musicians from area school districts which belong to the Schoharie County Music Teachers Association. The SVCB sponsors the solo festival to develop musical excellence in solo performers, to encourage the performance of solo literature, and to foster the continued study of music by graduating seniors. The festival is named for Donald Webster, who conducted the SVCB for 13 seasons. Cash prizes were earned by winning student soloists in the Grade 6-8, Grade 9-11, and Grade 12 categories.

The Grade 6-8 category was won by Heather Black, a Grade 8 alto saxophonist from Duanesburg CS, who played “Three Romances” by Schuman. Grade 6 flutist Kerrington Bellinger from Gilboa-Conesville CS also competed in the Grade 6-8 category.

In the Grade 9-11 category the winner was Rachel Zeh, a Grade 11 flutist from Duanesburg CSD, who played “Fantaisie Op.79” by Gabriel Faure. The three soloists from Schoharie CS who participated in this category were Grade 9 flutist Emily Lehoe and two Grade 10 clarinetists, Scarlett Rose and Mary Palmieri. There also were two contestants from Cobleskill-Richmondville CS, Grade 9 xylophonist Ananda Wilding and Grade 10 flutist Natasha Hitchcock.

At the SVCB’s Friday February 27th 7:30PM Pops Concert at Schoharie CS, the band will award Heather Black her Grade 6-8 $250 winning prize and Rachel Zeh her Grade 9-11 $375 winning prize.

Paul Munson from Duanesburg CS was the winner in the senior category for his solo performance on marimba of two pieces, “Children’s Prayer” by Engelbert Humperdinck and “Rain Dance” by Alice Gomez. The other senior soloist was flutist Heidi Collischonn from Cobleskill-Richmondville CS. Paul is an avid percussionist and is a member of multiple Empire State Youth Orchestra ensembles and has performed well at many NYSSMA solo competitions. Paul plans to pursue a music major in college and has applied to Virginia Tech University, which is well known for its regimental drum corps and marching bands.

Paul will perform a xylophone solo with the Schoharie Valley Concert Band on its Spring Concerts scheduled on Friday April 24th at Schoharie HS and on Sunday April 26 th at Cobleskill- Richmondville HS, where he will receive his Senior Solo Festival award of $750.

The SVCB extends special thanks to solo festival judges Ellen Rizzo and Lori Hershenhart,to
music teachers Carrie Styles (accompanist) and Sarah Becker from Schoharie CS; to Maxwell Horning (accompanist) and Marc Bachorik from Cobleskill-Richmondville CS; and to Isabella Schultz from Gilboa-Conesville CS for turning out to support the student soloists. Thanks also go out to Alan Ginsburg for taking photographs of the soloists.

The SVCB is a community band open to community, high school and college instrumental musicians. Band rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings from 7-9:30 PM at Cobleskill-Richmondville HS. If you would like to join the band, please contact Conductor Martin Zavadil at or Ed Truax at 518-925-0745.