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American String Teachers Association “ASTA was a wonderful experience,” wrote one student when asked to reflect on the festival, which was held Feb. 27 in Albuquerque. “To think that a public middle school orchestra was able to compete in such a prestigious competition and receive an excellent rating is extraordinary,” the student continued. “We had so much fun working hard and preparing for the competitioneeASTA was an amazing experience I will not soon forget.” The Los Alamos Middle School eighth grade orchestra was the only group from New Mexico selected to participate in the fifth annual ASTA National Orchestra Festival (NOF), sponsored by Yamaha. This year’s NOF consisted of 17 ensembles from 12 states and more than 800 orchestra students. “In the spring of 2007, I received a brochure asking for applications to the festival,” said orchestra director Cheryl Smith-Ecke. “Since the ASTA conference was to be held in Albuquerque, I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t try.”She added, “I sent in a tape, past programs and names of nationally-known educators who had heard previous LAMS orchestras perform. I was delighted to hear that we were chosen.”Then the work began. In order to raise the approximately $5,000 needed to attend the festival, parents and students worked on fund raising.
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