Arts performances assembling for a final time


The end of the year is arriving. The flowers are beginning to bloom for the spring, children are starting to play outside more, and the country is slowly opening up from the year-long-and-counting worldwide pandemic. 

One way the Arts programs have been trying to receive this normal feeling is through participation in Ohio’s Solo and Ensemble (S&E) contest. This competition usually takes place in-person at a local suggested school, and with performances throughout the day by solo’s, duet’s, trio’s and quartets from programs such as band, choir and strings. 

Another way students usually feel the normalcy of a new year is through the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) Large Group contest. This competition is similar to S&E, where a group of students (sometimes hand-picked) must travel together and compete with other groups around the state of Ohio in performances of prepared and sight-read pieces. 

However, OMEA has wanted to maintain the safety protocols into the contest day, and has made the contest completely virtual for people who still wanted to participate this year. And this year, none of the Arts programs have chosen to participate formally. 

Bill Thomas, the Director of Adjudications for OMEA, has explained the differences this year, and ensures the virtual competition is the most helpful and compatible to all OMEA participants this year. 

“There are no in-person events for this school year,” Thomas said. “Directors will submit a video performance of their band, choir or orchestra performing a selection off of the OMEA Required Music List.”

On normal occasions, directors of the program would be able to sign up for S&E in the fall, and have performances in the winter of the same school year. Students would begin practicing during the months following up to this date, which was usually in the month of January. 

Daniel Nauss, the strings director at GlenOak High School, is a member of the OMEA program. He has had his students compete in Large Group and S&E competitions, in the past. However this year, Nauss has taken his own route with the yearly competition. 

This year, strings students will have the opportunity to compete in a local competition with their fellow peers from their class, and be judged by only two to three local adjudicators. Nauss does this so his students can still have an opportunity to compete in small groups and practice their performing arts skills. 

The Strings program however is not the only program here usually participating in OMEA competitions. 

Brian Kieffer, one of the choir directors at GlenOak and a director of OMEA has not had the opportunity of having a competition. However, this does not stop his students from practicing for post-pandemic concerts and competitions. 

“Solo and Ensemble has come and gone,” Kieffer said. 

Alex Petro, a choir student at GlenOak, has been working on a solo for competition this year. But when it was announced that it would be virtual and the choir department did not choose to participate this year, it did not stop Petro’s determination. 

“I’ve been working on my solo for so long,” Petro said. “But this just gives me more excitement for next year.”

The band department has also in past years competed through OMEA, but this year has also decided to step back to preserve the safety of the students. 

Natalie Click, a flute player for Symphonic Winds, has been noticing the lack of performances, as most Arts students have, since the pandemic hit. Not having done S&E since freshman year, it was a setback to not have helpful critiques on the skills students strive to achieve.  

“The experience of performing in front of a judge and being able to express what you love to do is always something people look forward to doing,” Click said. “But this year we cannot do that.” 

The art of performance is something the GlenOak Arts Department strives to get each student to experience and love. With OMEA’s Large Group and Solo and Ensemble yearly competitions, it is a great opportunity to see the improving skills of each student. 

“The goal is to get back to in-person events,” Thomas said. “Nothing replaces a live performance.”