Schilling’s Chilling Graduation Solo

Since 2008, it has been a tradition for a senior musician to perform a solo at graduation, accompanied by the combined band of musicians of all grade levels. Anna Schilling was this year’s senior soloist, performing Concertino by Chaminade on the flute.

The soloist selection process for the following year begins as soon as the band finishes performing at the graduation of the current year. Phillip Barnes, the instrumental music director, said he looks for a musician that has demonstrated a tremendous amount of dedication to the music throughout their time at RHS.

I look for a student who has established a track record for excellent musicianship throughout their high school career,” Barnes said. “I also need to find someone who I know can prepare a solo piece independently or through the help of a private teacher, as it’s not something we have time in class to work on.”

The solo piece has to fit the musician’s abilities while also including parts that the band is suitable to perform and accompany. In the past, there have been solos featuring pianists, violinists, and a handbell choir that included a number of students in 2010.

“I try to give the student a heads up at the very beginning of their senior year so we have time to find a piece that fits their ability level,” Barnes said.

Schilling has been in the music program since she started in fourth grade at Barnsley ES. She has participated in the symphonic band as a freshman and sophomore, and in the symphonic orchestra as a junior and senior.

“Mr. Barnes asked me at the end of last year and I was really surprised because I thought there were other people that were better than me that he would have given it to,” Schilling said.

Schilling received the piece in March and has been working on it since.

“I am excited because I’ve never really performed in front of a big audience, and I am also going to have a recital later in June, so this is good practice for that,” Schilling said.

Senior Maisie Rocke has performed at graduation two times and is looking forward to performing for her third and final time as a senior. Any senior in the band or orchestra may participate in the band.

“Being a senior at graduation, it’s also really sad, but I’m excited,” Rocke said. “The special music for this year is really great.”

The band leaves with an early bus and arrives at DAR Constitution Hall long before anyone else arrives to setup and tune. The band rehearsed the music together a couple of times while individual musicians have had it for about a month. The individual musicians will work on the music on their own time and come together on specific days to rehearse as a group. Students have also missed class to come in and rehearse together.

“I don’t get to sit where the seniors normally sit,” Rocke said. “That does mean I have to get up early to take the bus with the other performers.”

The band will perform Rockville’s Alma Mater, the Star Spangled Banner, Pomp and Circumstance and Trumpet Voluntary along with the solo piece.