On Saturday, February 25, over 150 members of the Noble Schools community gathered together to celebrate music and student musicians at Noble’s 5th annual Honor Music Festival. The mixture of musical talents on display at the festival was stunning. Student choirs, orchestras, string ensembles, and more from across several Noble campuses took to the stage of the Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium to perform.
“All of these opportunities are new adventures and learning that students undergo along with the expertise of the faculty of NEIU who work with them throughout the weekend,” said David Batdorf, choir director at Golder College Prep and one of the main organizers of the event.
Batdorf is originally from the Pennsylvania area and found his way to Chicago over 10 years ago. He found out about Noble through a friend and now 7 years later, here he is! Music has guided Batdorf throughout his educational career.
“A guiding phrase in my life is, ‘Develop your gift and give it away’. I’ve always known I wanted to pass on the opportunity to participate in and be changed by music to young people. Starting and seeing the choir program grow at Golder has provided a deeply meaningful and personal way to do this for me,” Batdorf said.
When Batdorf and former Golder choir director Kim Rocks first started this festival, the experience was designed specifically for choir and band. Now, the festival has become a prominent event to showcase all kinds of musical talents, and it keeps growing even larger.
“While many elements have remained similar, this year’s event expanded to include strings and steel pan drums, reflecting the music programs at additional Noble campuses,” Batdorf said. At the festival, students are encouraged to explore new skills and challenges. For example, this year, wind players had the opportunity to play with strings and new singers were able to perform in a large venue for the first time. Thanks to the NEIU staff there, students were also able to ask for support and assistance throughout the event.
One of the performances Batdorf highlighted was a choral performance of “Dreams of Thee”, a moving love song featuring a cello. Another beautiful performance, Batdorf said, came from the orchestra, composed of students across different campuses, as they performed “Dark Ride”, a “lively, rhythmic piece” with some “spooky” elements.
“It was a challenging piece and the students rose to the challenge!” Batdorf said.
As for next year’s festival, Batdorf hopes even more students join in.
“This is a special opportunity that no student in the network who has the skills to participate should miss out on,” Batdorf said.