CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Hundreds of students at Charlottesville High School are being honored on the national level for their work in music, and now they’re taking home some pretty impressive hardware to show for it.

For CHS senior Lewis Tate, being in the orchestra has always meant a lot more than just playing an instrument.

“To have that thing where you can always find something that you enjoy, you can appreciate it a lot," Tate said.

Tate is one of hundreds of CHS students being honored on a national level for their work in the orchestra, band, and choir.

“We all play pieces and they get rated and scored by judges, and we've had a winning streak for a long time and this one was a particularly good outtake,” Tate said.

The WorldStrides 2019 Atlanta Heritage Festival hosted high school students from all over the country.

“Whenever we're in the building, around us you just feel that energy that we're ready to give 100%,” Tate said.

The Black Knights came out on top, taking home the grand championship award and other awards like most outstanding orchestra, most outstanding band, and five different gold medals.

“One of the biggest things out of this is being able to be together,” Will Cooke, the CHS choir instructor, said.

Cooke says he hopes the programs help inspire students beyond the classroom.

“Knowing that music will always be a part of their lives beyond the walls of Charlottesville High School is really important for us,” Cooke said.

Other students say the trophies just add to the experience, one they won't soon forget.

“Getting to go and show that to people and show how hard we've worked and how well it payed off, it’s enjoyable and definitely something I'm going to cherish,” Anna Bon-Harper, a student in the band, said.

The Charlottesville High School music program is also among the most decorated in the commonwealth, having earned 11 blue ribbons from the Virginia Music Educators Association.

04/16/2019 Press Release from Charlottesville City Schools:

(ATLANTA, GA) Topping a long list of accolades earned at the WorldStrides 2019 Atlanta Heritage Festival, Charlottesville High School musicians won the Grand Championship Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a high school music program at the event.

More than 200 CHS students and chaperones traveled to Atlanta on April 11-14 to participate in the festival. CHS band, orchestra, and choir members performed in the competition which included 18 ensembles from New York, California, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, and Virginia.

"Taking the CHS Music Department on the road was a tremendous experience,” said CHS Orchestra Director Laura Thomas. “It was truly gratifying to share our band, choir, and orchestra with others from all over the country. Bringing home the Grand Championship was icing on the cake!"

Along with the Grand Championship Award, the musicians also earned the following:

  • Instrumental Sweepstakes (Best Orchestra and Band)
  • Outstanding Orchestra (CHS String Ensemble)
  • Outstanding Band (CHS Concert Band)
  • Five Gold Medals (Festival Choir, Jazz Band, Concert Band, Combined String Orchestra, and String Ensemble)
  • Four Adjudicators Awards (both bands and both orchestras)
  • Two Maestro Awards (soloists Barrett Crusse and Danny Dupes)

The packed travel itinerary also provided opportunities to explore the host city, including an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert, a tour of the MLK Jr. Historic Site, a Braves/Mets game in the new SunTrust Park, and a visit to the Georgia Aquarium.

CHS Band Director Jason Hackworth said his students had a hard time picking just one favorite part of the experience. “One student summed it up perfectly-- ‘All of the trip has been wonderful, but the best part has been the time spent with each other.’ Fantastic sentiment, and one I will gladly echo.”

CHS Choir Director Will Cooke added, “I am grateful for this opportunity to celebrate the unifying power of music in a day and age where what separates us or makes us different is too frequently the headline.”

The CHS music program is among the most decorated in Virginia, earning eleven “Blue Ribbons” from the Virginia Music Educators Association which recognizes schools whose top band, choir, and orchestra all earn superior ratings on annual district assessments.

Earlier this month, the following CHS musicians earned top state honors by participating in the 2019 All-Virginia Choir, Bands, and Orchestra at the Richmond Marriott and Convention Center: Adria Cafferillo, Choir; Reid Dodson, Symphonic Band, Parker Nelson, Choir, Margaret Ann Doran, Choir, and Anna Bon-Harper, Symphonic Band, and Sarah Garretson, Orchestra.

Finally, this weekend, eleventh-grader Dante Walker won the regional Omega Psi Phi Talent Hunt, held at Dulles. His piano skills outpaced a variety of performers, including dancers, actors, other pianists, and instrumentalists from across the state.