Beaver Area High School student and Brighton Township resident, Shannon Witkouski, an accomplished multi-instrument musician with the PA Music Educators Association (PMEA) All State Jazz Ensemble, has been selected as one of six percussionists to perform with elite high school talent across the United State in the 2021 National Association for Music Education’s All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) Concert Band.

The 2021 virtual event will include several rehearsals in January with the ANHE Conductors, workshops with renowned clinicians, and preparation of a final, recorded performance which will premiere online during the annual Music In Our Schools Month activities.

With assistance of J.P. Scanga, Beaver Area High School Director of Bands, Witkouski will prepare challenging music that she will perform as part of the 2021 All- National Concert Band, under the leadership of prominent conductor, Travis Cross, professor of music at UCLA.

To qualify, accomplished high school musicians first compete at their local, district and state level to become eligible for this distinguished honor. Due to COVID, virtual auditions were utilized, with students submitting recordings that were then used to evaluate their technical and artistic abilities. The selected exceptional musicians will showcase their expert musicianship and perform in online concerts celebrating music education and the arts.

“I began this pursuit last fall, when I auditioned for PMEA Honors Band. From there, throughout the spring, I auditioned for All State Jazz, where I placed first in the state on vibraphone. Simultaneously, I was auditioning for District, Regional and All State Orchestra, where I placed second in percussion. Because my placement in All State Jazz that came first, I was excluded from being named to All State Orchestra. This then made me eligible to audition for Nationals, and I used the summer months to familiarize myself with the repertoire and better my performance of the pieces, completing my three part audition on timpani, snare, and marimba in September. I am thrilled to be a part of the All-National Honor Ensembles Concert Band, as it is the culmination of years of music study. It is a huge honor to represent my school, community, and state on a national scale,” said Witkouski.

The efforts of dedicated music educators have enabled Witkouski to successfully audition and perform with many PA Music Educators Association festivals, including Honors Band; District Band; District, Regional Orchestra; and District and All State Jazz.

In addition to her participation in many music ensembles at Beaver Area High School, Shannon trains privately with P.J. Gatch, Percussionist and Adjunct Professor of Music at Duquesne University and Westminster College, and she has attended Carnegie Mellon University Pre College Music Program, Penn State Honors Music Institute, and West Virginia University Percussion Academy.

Shannon, a high school senior, is the daughter of Leigh McIntosh and Bill Witkouski. “After high school, I plan to study music education. I have submitted several college applications already, but I’m still undecided where I will land. Ultimately, I would like to teach music theory at a college or university,” added Witkouski.

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