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June 17, 2015 - 8:54am
posted by Jess Wheeler in entertainment, music, batavia.

For as long as he can remember Batavia native Gary Call Hanley has been surrounded by music. As a child, his grandmother, Leona Pastore, took him to orchestras and encouraged his love for music. It wasn’t long before Call Hanley learned to play a variety of instruments and began to play in various bands.

Courtesy of Nashville Symphony

After a few years of touring in Western New York with local bands, he started playing with national bands. He has played legendary venues like New York’s CBGB. Now, Call Hanley has planted roots in Nashville, Tenn., as a recording and audio engineer with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

On July 3, his composition “Plight of the Common Man” will premiere at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center as part of the “Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture: A Star Spangled Evening with the Nashville Symphony” event.  This will be the first time in the history of the Orchestra that it plays a symphony written by someone on its staff.

“The 1812 concert is annually one of the most popular performances on our concert calendar,” Dave Felipe, publicist for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra said. “It means Gary’s work will be heard by upwards of 1,500 or more people along with works by Gershwin, Copland, Barber and more.”

Felipe is right. Call Hanley is very excited.

“I don’t know of anyone else who has had their first symphony played by a world-renowned orchestra,” Call Hanley joked. “I just thought, if other composers can do it, so can I.”

So he did.

“Plight of the Common Man,” starts off minimalistic, builds up in the middle and comes back to a gentle ending. Call Hanley likened it to the life of man.

“We start off small, we live these big lives, and then we end small,” he said.

The title comes from the thought that man is facing a constant struggle.

“Life isn’t always a fanfare, sometimes it’s a plight,” he added. “The challenge is to overcome all of the hardships and heartaches that life brings. With the good comes the bad and with the bad comes the good.”

When he isn’t writing symphonies or recording for a GRAMMY Award winning orchestra, Gary Call Hanley finds solace in playing with his band Subway Lights. In addition to cowriting songs with his writing partner Alex Quinn, Call Hanley sings lead vocals.

“Music is in my DNA,” he said. “I hear melodies and music all the time in my head. If I didn’t have those outlets, I think I would be a very sad man.”

Call Hanley believes that Western New York holds a great deal of musical talent and he feels lucky to be a part of it.

“I feel very fortunate,” he said. “I feel very lucky to be where I am. I am very grateful to that. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve been very grateful.”

(Photo: Courtesy the Nashville Symphony.)

June 13, 2015 - 9:34am

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Heavy rain didn't dampen the spirit of Friday's Genesee Symphony Orchestra concert, which was moved from Jackson Square to City Centre because of the storms. As promised, the GSO delivered a lively and energetic show.

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June 9, 2015 - 10:10am

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Press release:

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is having a full-orchestra concert this Friday, June 12, 7 p.m. at Jackson Square. The GSO musicians are reaching out to our Batavia audience in hopes of having an entertaining concert for all ages. The program will be conducted and led by GSO concertmaster Gregory Docenko. Greg is a phenomenal violinist and will be playing his electric violin while conducting the orchestra through the program.

Greg has designed the program with musical arrangements that will get the audience whistling and clapping. There is a portion of the program that will feature the GSO Jazzers, and Blue Grass Fiddles. Howard Owens will be featured on his typewriter during the "Typewriter" by LeRoy Anderson. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley will read the narrative/story of "The Frog Prince" with orchestra accompaniment. "Stars and Stripes Forever" and a brass rendition of "America the Beautiful" will fill our patriotic hearts.

Though Jackson Square concerts are free, the GSO will be accepting donations to support our orchestra for the upcoming 69th season. So, bring your chairs and enjoy our very entertaining hour-long concert. The GSO is proud to continue and support our area's cultural traditions.

Photos by Howard Owens, rehearsal Monday evening in the band room at Batavia HS.

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June 8, 2015 - 5:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, music, entertainment.

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Ross Chua and Chelsea Jensen rehearse Monday afternoon on the Batavia High School stage for tomorrow night's talent showcase.

The show goes on at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $3 each.

June 4, 2015 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew, Le Roy, business, entertainment, music.

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The Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy kicked off a summer series Battle of the Bands on Wednesday night.

For each of the next 10 weeks, 10 bands will compete to move on to the next round. One band each Wednesday is playing from at least 8 to 9 p.m. (the period of judging, the bands may play longer).

The series kicked off with a performance by JP Shaggy, from Syracuse.

There will also be bands in the competition from the local area as well as Buffalo and Rochester, said Jimmy B, from Jimmy B entertainment, who is organizing the event with Smokin' Eagle co-owner Jon Marcello.

There is a panel of five judges. They will judge the bands on stage presentation, time management, sound quality, band synchronization, band enthusiasm, and attitude and audience response.

The top six bands move onto the semi-finals. Round 2 will be three weeks of two bands each week, top seed vs. bottom seed. 

The finalists will compete Sept. 19, which is a Saturday, from 2 to 10 p.m. That event will be a fundraiser for a charity yet to be selected. There will be other entertainment along with raffles and drawings.

JP Shaggy is Jason Krueger.  To find out more about him, visit his Facebook page.

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June 4, 2015 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in jackson square concerts, music, batavia, downtown.

Press release:

The Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) is sponsoring the 16th Annual Jackson Square Concert Series, each one is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, June 12th – Aug. 28th, in Downtown Batavia. Free to the public. Food and refreshments available. Rain Days at Batavia City Centre. Bring your own seating. More Info: Don Burkel at B.I.D. at 585-344-0900. Visit: www.downtownbataviany.com

The Jackson Square Concerts “ Friday Nights In The Square” will be featuring:

  • Genesee Symphony (Friday, June 12th)
  • Emerald Isle (June 26th)
  • Fat City (July 3rd)
  • Mitty & The Followers (July 10th)
  • Penny Whiskey (July 17th)
  • OHMS Band (July 24th)
  • Ghost Riders (July 31st)
  • Ghost Riders Drum & Bugle (July 31st)
  • It’s My Party (Aug. 7th)
  • Bluesway Band (Aug. 14th)
  • John Cole Blues Band (Aug. 21st)
  • C’est Bon Dance Band (Aug. 28th)
June 1, 2015 - 8:25am
posted by Jess Wheeler in entertainment, music, veterans, batavia, weapon-x.

The ignition of the fuel on a diesel engine creates a low, aggressive grumble, booming bass and grungy chugging. Who would have thought that the same sounds could be heard in songs written in the Marine barracks in Iraq?

Dan Clor, 39, who grew up in Le Roy, wrote the songs in 2006. After his tour, he brought them to Los Angeles, where he lives now, and started recording them in 2007. From there, Weapon-X was born.

The name comes from a Marvel comic. It was recommended to Clor by a Marine friend. The band started playing live shows and people took to the name. Clor asked Marvel and they let him use it.  

As a Marine, Clor is moved by his time in the military. The band plays shows for veterans and receives a lot of support from them.

“I feel like three out of four veterans hear our music and latch onto it pretty well. Marines and vets are usually in your corner as long as you don’t screw up,” he said.

Although their songs have a lot of military and underdog overtones, Weapon-X doesn’t want to be put into a corner. They’re inspired by a lot of heavy and forceful music.

“It all started with Pantera, Metallica and (Black) Sabbath. I like everything from Johnny Cash to early '90s rap stuff,” Clor said. “Metallica is the band that made me go to House of Guitars and buy my first guitar. I didn’t know what to do with it.”

Not only did he learn how to play guitar, but at 18, Clor was teaching music lessons at Roxy’s when it was in the Batavia Shopping Center. He’s grateful for the time he spent in Genesee County.

“I thought it was cool to be raised in the small-town atmosphere,” he said. “Everyone is real close to each other. I did like just kind of having that closeness, but I felt a little stifled. I knew I wanted to move somewhere bigger. I needed more activity, more opportunity.”

Clor moved to L.A. in 2003. He went to the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. After running low on money, he decided he had to get right to work in the industry. Now, in addition to being the front man of Weapon-X, Clor owns Victory Music Academy in L.A. There, he helps build and develop young bands. He aims to be a mentor for people who like to play edgier and darker music.

For now, Clor is back in town. He and Weapon-X are preparing for the Beast Coast Tour. This tour marks the first time the boys are playing the East Coast since the band's inception.

“We decided to come back here because we were getting a lot of response from people back home,” he said. “We put feelers out there and the response was really good.”

The tour kicks off at Montage Music Hall in Rochester on Friday for $15. They will play a second show at the same location on Saturday. Both shows are being sponsored by Center Street Smoke House. The tour will also see stops in Syracuse, Cambridge, Mass., Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

The band consists of Clor on lead vocals and guitar, Bill Scott on guitar, Ryan Whyman playing the keyboard, Jesus Rauda on bass, and David Thueson on drums. Unfortunately, the usual bass player and drummer could not make it. The Beast Coast Tour will see Jared Swaney on bass and James D. Jackson on drums.

May 29, 2015 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in va center, batavia, music, entertainment, veterans.

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Country singer Ricky Lee performed at the Batavia VA Hospital this afternoon. His set list included patriotic songs, songs honoring veterans and even some George "The 'Possum" Jones.

Each veteran in attendance was given a copy of his latest CD for free.

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May 14, 2015 - 10:54am
Event Date and Time: 
May 16, 2015 -
11:00am to 2:00pm
This Saturday, May 16th, the Holland Land Office Museum and the Batavia International Peace Garden are celebrating a joint event! The Peace Garden's annual flag raising will take place at 11:00 am with speaker State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and the St. Joseph's Brass Ensemble providing patriotic music. At 1:00 pm, the Holland Land Office Museum will be burying its Bicentennial Time Capsule and keynote speakers include Genesee County historian Michael J. Eula and City of Batavia historian Larry Barnes.
May 10, 2015 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Chorale, arts, music, elba.

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Photos from yesterday's rehearsal of the Genesee Chorale. 

Here's a press release about the upcoming performance:

On Sunday May 17 at 3 p.m. at Elba MS/HS Auditorium, the Genesee Chorale will present its Spring Season, “Music in Motion.” In the past, the Chorale has shared the stage with other musicians, ranging from a full orchestra to other chorale groups and soloists. This time, Director Ric Jones thought to try something entirely new: why not share the stage with live dancers? The Genesee Chorale Board applauded the notion and unanimously gave the go-ahead, and Jones went from there.

He first approached Dan Doctor, of Medina’s West Side Academy, asking him, “So…what do you think of choreographing a show entirely to live chorale music?” And Doctor responded quickly in the affirmative: “Yes!  We’re in.” And after reviewing the repertoire, he committed his dancers to six songs.

They weren’t the only ones. Dancers from Batavia’s Divine Dance, directed by Erin Martin, were in as well, happy to join the Genesee Chorale in such a unique endeavor. Though May is a busy season for every performing group, they were pleased to share some of their best performers to feature in “Music in Motion.” And finally, the Greycliffe Quartet, a renowned string ensemble from Buffalo, committed to accompany the singers, too.

The Genesee Chorale is accompanied on piano by Doug Hanson. The concert will also feature soloists Mark Christenson, Rachel Chrostowski, Janine Fagnan, Yvonne Freeman (also featured as a flutist), Merry Lou Holley, Carl Schoonover, Heather Lovelace, and Norm Woodworth.

Presale tickets are $8 and are available online at www.geneseechorale.com. Tickets will also be available at the door for $10.

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May 6, 2015 - 1:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, arts, batavia, Richmond Memorial Library.

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Alec R. Sass, a sophomore at Clarence High School, performed a 45-minute bagpipe show at the Richmond Memorial Library last night. In all, 50 people attended the performance, which included the songs "Scots Wha Hae and "Amazing Grace."

Photos submitted by Craig Gillard.

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April 24, 2015 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, schools, education, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame High School hosted its annual spring concert at the school Thursday night with jazz ensemble and concert choir performing such pieces as the "Overture of the Magic Flute," highlights from "Harry Potter," Disney movie tunes and a portion of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." Theresa Kehl is conductor of both the ensemble and the choir.

April 11, 2015 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors hosted a farewell luncheon at GO ART! this afternoon for Raffaele Ponti, the musical director and conductor of the orchestra for 18 years who will conduct his final concert with the GSO tomorrow.

The luncheon was attended by board members and several longtime orchestra members, including Helen Grapka, pictured above with Ponti and his daughter, Sofia.

Sofia is holding the violin Grapka played for 46 years with GSO. She sold it to the Ponti family, along with the violin of her late husband, John, when she retired from music a few years ago. Sofia will play it during her featured performance at tomorrow's concert.

Grapka is the last surviving founding member of GSO.

In the 1940s, she and her husband played with a small orchestra organized by a local man who wanted to be a conductor each Jan. 1 at the old folks home in Bethany. At the 1947 show, Helen and John had a conversation with two members of their string quartet and decided they should start a local orchestra.

The GSO's first concert was later that year, in November, at the old Dipson Theater. Some 1,400 people attended and hundreds more were turned away at the door. Grapka remembers men showing up in tuxedos and the women dressed in long gowns and minks.

From the beginning, the orchestra attracted the finest musicians in the area and had a dozen first violinists that first season.

John Grapka was musical director at the New York State School for the Blind and after teaching at a public school for six years, Helen taught music at the School for the Blind for 20 years.

She's proud that what she and her husband started has lasted into the 21st Century.

"If anything ever happens and it all falls apart, it will never happen again," Grapka said. "It's important to keep it going because it's such an important cultural thing for the community."

Tomorrow's concert is at 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

Ponti with an award presented to him by Board President Paul Saskowski and Board Member Roxanne Choate. 

Below are pictures from yesterday's rehearsal at Batavia High School. Dave Mancini is also performing with the orchestra tomorrow. The Rochester resident will perform on some of his own compositions, including "A Piece for Him," which he wrote and dedicated to his father. Members of the Student String Workshop (featured in some of the photos below) will also perform with the orchestra.

April 9, 2015 - 11:53am
posted by Holland Land Office in history, music, Holland Land Office Museum, civil war, live music.
Event Date and Time: 
April 10, 2015 -
7:00pm to 9:00pm

The 2015 Concert Series at the Holland Land Office Museum continues Friday, April 10th, with "A Night of Southern Music". Returning again are Dave Armitage and Dona LaValle, along with newcomer Al Capurso. Tickets are just $8.00 per person and can be purchased in advance or at the door.

 

April 9, 2015 - 11:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Jonathan Jaeger, music instructor at Roxy's Music in Batavia, practices with students Lucia Sprague, John Patt and Kirk Ellison. The students are preparing for Sunday's performance with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra of the "1812 Overture" and "Concerto Grosso."

Showtime is 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

The concert will also feature drummer Dave Mancini and his original compositions of "A Peace For Him" and  "Symphony of Peace." 

It is also the final concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Photo submitted by Debbie Patt.

April 8, 2015 - 6:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Concert Band, music.

Press release:

The Batavia Concert Band’s 91st season of music-making will run again this year with free public concerts in Batavia’s Centennial Park on July 1, 8, 15, 22, and July 29, as well as the ever-popular July 4 "Picnic in the Park" sponsored by GO-ART!

The Batavia Concert Band’s repertoire is wide-ranging in origin, period and style: marches, Big Band and swing numbers, popular songs from musicals and movies, jazz and rock favorites arranged for band, classical adaptations, fun songs for kids of all ages, and everything in between.

The Band consists of 45-50 brass, woodwind and percussion players ranging from talented local high school students to 60-year veterans. Many have professional experience; the rest are advanced amateur musicians. All love to play.

This year’s conductor will be John Bailey, instrumental music director at Lyndonville Central School. The July 1 and July 4 Picnic in the Park concerts will be conducted by David Keller.

Founded in the early 1920s, the Batavia Concert Band has brought musical pleasure to the region every year except during World War II. The Band currently enjoys financial support from the NY State Council on the Arts via GO-ART!, concert sponsors, program advertisers, and individual patrons. The City of Batavia supplies chairs for musicians. The Band also sponsors 50-50 raffles at every concert and a season-long 50-50 raffle. Individuals interesting in supporting the Band should contact a Board member at any concert.

Downbeat for regular season concerts is 7 p.m., Wednesday evenings, in Centennial Park, Batavia. (* In the event of rain, concerts will move to Genesee Community College. Notices will be posted at the NW corner of Centennial Park and announced on WBTA radio AM1490, posted on http://TheBatavian.com, and the Batavia Daily News Web site, http://www.thedailynewsonline.com)

All concerts are free to the public of all ages. Light refreshments are available. Bring the family, some friends, lawn chairs or a blanket… and enjoy!

For more information on the Band, how to sponsor, etc., see http://bataviaconcertband.net. We’re also on Facebook!

April 7, 2015 - 2:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Nationally renowned drummer and composer Dave Mancini joins the Genesee Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon in a performance that will include popular pieces such as "Caravan" and the world premier of Mancini's own "Symphony of Peace."

The 4 p.m. performance at Batavia High School will be the last GSO concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Ponti's daughter, Sofia Ponti, will also be featured on violin.

Mancini composed "Symphony of Peace" and dedicated it to his father, a World War II veteran.

The Rochester resident is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has performed with Chuck Mangione, Rosemary Clooney, Maureen McGovern, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Bop Hope, as well as Doc Severinsen, the Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, New York Pops, Vancouver Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Other pieces in the concert include Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Vivaldi's "La Primavera," Fiesta Latina, Concerto Grosso by Antonio Vivaldi, the "1812 Overture."

There will also be a performance by participants in this year's string workshop.

Tickets are available at GO ART!, Roxy's Music, Batavia Senior Center and the Bank of Castile branch in Le Roy, and are $15 for adults, $7 for students, $10 for seniors and $35 for a family with children 12 and under.

Photos are from Monday's rehearsal.

March 25, 2015 - 10:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, entertainment, darien lake.

With David Lee Roth back in the fold, a new live album, and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Van Halen is about to hit the road for a tour that will include a stop in Genesee County.

The legendary rockers will play Darien Lake on Aug. 25.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd will open the show, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., April 4.

For more information, visit LiveNation.com.

March 16, 2015 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, alexander, Emily Helenbrook.

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

March 15, 2015 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, arts, music, entertainment.

Photos by Jim Burns.

The first of two All-County Music Festival concerts was held Saturday in Attica, with student musicians from throughout Genesee and Wyoming counties participating.

The concert is the culmination of a lot of hard work by students, including an audition process that also contributes to the grades of many students in music classes.

The next show is at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Batavia Middle School. Tickets are $4 at the door.

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