BHS orchestra wins top honors at Inaugural Music Festival

BHS orchestra takes top honors in Washington, D.C.; wins spirit award for character

Berkley High School took first place in the category of string orchestra performance at the WorldStrides Heritage Inaugural Music Festival, Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Maryland on Saturday, Jan. 19. The chamber ensemble, composed of students from both the BHS concert and symphony orchestras, was recognized as the most outstanding orchestra at the competition.

BHS orchestra director John Robertson said the group also received the "Spirit of Washington, D.C." award for exemplifying the highest ideals in both character and performance. 

“Kyle Naylor, the director of Heritage Festivals, made it a point to personally congratulate us on the spirit award, saying that the competition organizers were very impressed with how friendly and well-mannered our students were, but were especially moved by how our entire group - students, parents, and support staff - came together to incorporate Lance Vardon, a student with special needs, into our program,” said Robertson.

Vardon, an Oak Park resident and pianist, is blind and autistic. He and his family were featured in a 2004 episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. 

Robertson said it was an outstanding weekend, from visiting the historical museums of the Smithsonian Institution to witnessing history in the making as the first African American president of the United States was sworn in for a second term on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “We had a great time and I believe students will remember this trip for the rest of their lives,” said Robertson.

The BHS orchestra winter concert is scheduled for Thursday, February 14 at 7 p.m. in the Berkley High School auditorium. 

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