Oak Creek Soroco High School senior Mandy Meyer said what she liked most about performing Tuesday at the school's solo and ensemble festival was the slate of excellent performers from all across Northwest Colorado.
"I like meeting new people and seeing how much experience they have," said Meyer, a soprano and Soroco's only senior vocalist.
Meyer received a "superior" rating for all three of her performances, including a duet with her sister, Cassy Meyer.
The Meyers' recitals were among 177 performances at the festival, which showcased the vocal and instrumental talents of students from eight regional high schools and middle schools. Forty-five of the students hailed from South Routt.
"From flute to guitar to voice to a trash can ensemble, all the concert instruments you can think of participated," said Kelli Turnipseed, who has served as Soroco's musical director for five years.
Performers were judged on a five-point scale, with one being the most technically superior.
Six Soroco High School performances and five Soroco Middle School performances received a "superior" rating.
Students from East Grand, Hayden, Lake County, Moffat County, Middle Park, North Park and West Grand schools performed at the festival. Hayden students were awarded two "excellent" ratings and one "good" rating.
"I really want to make it clear that this year's festival was a huge success," said Turnipseed, who noted that many students worked seven to eight hours Tuesday to prepare for the event.
She also noted the efforts of community members who pitched in to make the festival a success, including Ed Wilson of Roaring Fork Music in Glenwood Springs, who donated three days of his time tuning the school's pianos.
"Our goal was to reinstate the festival in our district and set a high standard for festivals to come," Turnipseed said. "Myself and the kids have really built our standards, and our ratings at large group festivals have really improved. Although the number of students participating hasn't gone up, the quality definitely rises every year."
Other standout performances included Soroco freshman Corey Snyder's flute duet with fellow freshman Caitlyn Berry.
"I just enjoy playing," said Corey, 14, who received a "superior" rating for her performance. "I also like getting feedback from the judges."
Working daily with the Soroco musicians and vocalists, Turnipseed said her advice and praise sometimes falls on deaf ears.
"I think it's an awesome thing for the judges to give the kids advice," she said.
"Even if it's the same thing they hear from a director every day, for some reason if it comes from somebody new it sinks in more."