AFTER 87 YEARS THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, in its infinite wisdom, has eliminated its annual Citywide Chorus/Band/Orchestra festival competitions for high school and elementary ensembles.
Unlike the state contest, the CPS, over a sequence of years, required performances representing each historical period as well as music in different languages for chorus. Unlike the state contest, the CPS events
also required sight-reading as part of the evaluation.
These contests were one of the few things CPS administrators didn't completely and totally screw up. Until now.
My students started out as non-rating exhibition participants. We worked our way up through lower ratings to higher ratings to, finally, an Honors Superior rating last year. My students, past and present, are fiercely proud of this accomplishment and my new students look forward to attaining the same high level of musicianship. Sadly, my students will never have this same experience again.
There are few things in CPS that have lasted 88 years. Most initiatives, policies, or events last a few years before they are discarded by some leader that is new to the system. These important music events endured. And for good reason.
In predictable CPS fashion administration expects classroom teachers to volunteer the time, energy, and effort (not to mention money) to organize on our own some sort of comparable festival performances - without compensation.
-Eric Skalinder (Thomas Kelly Highschool Chorus Director)
The Citywide festival competition is something that is not just important to me but important for every CPS student that plays music. It always gave us a goal to improve musically and mentally. Music doesn't just teach us order, creativity, or perfection. Music teaches us that no matter what color or religion you are when you create and play music for that moment we can understand each other. At that moment we are one , we can be happy, sad, humble, mysterious, energetic...etc. Please help us to keep this tradition alive for the musicians of today and of the future.
-Andres Lepe Jr (Thomas Kelly High School Student and Band member)