Bedford Schools Send 18 Talented Musicians to Massachusetts Eastern District Festivals 

February 21, 2023
(L-R) Kate Woo, Lucy Drench, Rei Brown, Matthew Shen, Zachary Shen auditioned and received invitations into the 2022-2023 Eastern District Festivals organized by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association. Photo Credit: Nicole O’Toole

Each year, thousands of student musicians from public, private, and parochial schools in 30 towns and cities in Eastern Massachusetts audition as part of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) Eastern District Festivals. 

(L-R) Mia Falco, Aiden Green, Joseph Choi will perform as part of the MMEA Eastern Junior District festival chorus in March. Photo Credit Nicole O’Toole

This year, 18 Bedford student musicians earned spots in the esteemed ensembles showing their talent, skill, and dedication to music performance. 

The MMEA Eastern District is run by volunteer music educators with the goal “to bring high-quality performing experiences to the students in school programs.” 

To participate students study and rehearse a solo piece of music as well as sets of scales prior to an audition. During auditions, the musicians play or sing the prepared music and scales as well as a piece of sight-read music (something they haven’t seen before) in front of a judge. The musicians are evaluated against a standard rubric with the highest scorers being accepted into an ensemble. 

Students audition based on grade level; grades 7-9 are considered for Junior Districts, while students in grades 10-12 are vying for the Senior Festival. Each level forms an ensemble of band, orchestra, jazz, and chorus from the musicians. 

(L-R) Greg Sedran, Matthew Shin. Photo Credit: Nicole O’Toole

Accepted students receive music to rehearse. They rehearse with the group of students across the district prior to the Festival Concert and then perform. 

Twelve Bedford students qualified for the Massachusetts Eastern District Junior Festival and will perform in a concert at Lincoln-Sudbury High School on Saturday, March 11. In the orchestra are Adam Chao (viola), Nileya Liu (violin), Alessandro Salato (string bass), and Maggie Zhao (violin). For the chorus, Joseph Choi (bass), Mia Falco (tenor), and Aiden Green (alto) qualified. The band musicians include Cedric Last (oboe), Lucy Drench (clarinet), Brian Nam (clarinet), Greg Sedran (trombone), Kira Shen (snare drum), and Matthew Shin (clarinet). 

The Massachusetts Eastern District Senior Festival concert was performed at the Boston Latin School on Jan. 7. The student musicians who performed in the band included Rei Brown (clarinet), Kate Woo (clarinet), Matthew Shen (percussion), and Zachary Shen (percussion). Jacob Choi (bass) performed with the chorus. 

BHS Junior Jacob Choi, performed in the Massachusetts Eastern District Senior Festival concert and also earned an invitation to perform in the MMEA All-State Concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Photo Credit: Nicole O’Toole

Jacob Choi’s audition score at the senior district level was high enough to earn a recommendation to advance to the All-State Festival auditions. Jacob was successful at the state auditions and was invited to perform at Boston’s Symphony Hall on Saturday, March 4 with students across Massachusetts in the MMEA All-State Concert. He said this is an “amazing opportunity” and celebrates the honor with music teachers who have guided and encouraged him as far back as Lane school. 

Nicole O’Toole, Program Director of Performing Arts, said, “The entire department is so proud of the hard work of all our students who auditioned for the festival. Their dedication to improving their musical skills and striving to be part of a high-level ensemble should be noted!”

She adds, “We definitely hope to see the interest in the district festivals continue. Students who want to participate next year should check with their ensemble teachers to learn more about the audition process.” 

The MMEA website is at, with the MMEA Eastern District information here:

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