Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Toledo brothers bond in band


James Basel, 15, plays the bassoon and his brother Joe Basel, 16, the oboe in a practice session for the Ohio State Fair band.

Hires / Blade Enlarge

For Toledo brothers James and Joseph Basel, it pays to play well with others.

The Basel brothers are preparing to pack up and head to Columbus, where James, 15, will play the bassoon and Joseph, 16, will play the oboe in the All-Ohio State Fair Band.

The 200 members of the band, selected from high school students statewide, will learn dozens of songs - including show tunes, classical music, contemporary pieces, and folk songs - for shows that will take place at various locations and times each day of the fair.

Also featured will be the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, a 200-member group of high school students chosen on the basis of ability, experience, and teacher recommendations.

The 151st Ohio State Fair will be held in Columbus from Aug. 4 to Aug. 15 and hosted by the Ohio Expo Center.

Twenty-eight northwest Ohio students are in this year's All-Ohio State Fair Band.

Twelve members of the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir are from the local area.

"I kind of feel honored," James said. "It will be a good experience to play some good music [and] play with good people."

Joseph said he and James received acceptance letters around mid-May.

Like his brother, Joseph is excited to perform with fellow students "who really want to play."

Donald Santa-Emma, 65, will serve as the band's head director for the sixth consecutive year. The former director of fine arts education for Cleveland Public Schools is looking forward to leading the young musicians.

"The best part about it, obviously, is the kids," Mr. Santa-Emma said. "They kind of keep me young."

Band members will report to the fair grounds on July 31,

he said. That evening, they will start rehearsals; before the fair's opening four days later, they will have to learn about 50 songs.

During those few days, Mr. Santa-Emma said, members will experience a type of musical "boot camp" - eight to 10 hours of rehearsal each day.

"We have our work cut out for us," he said.

Food and lodging are provided free to band members.

The disciplined youngsters earn their keep by waking at 7:30 or 8 a.m. and playing every day of the fair.

Mr. Santa-Emma said the band will be divided in two for daytime performances and will be at full force in the evenings.

For some students, the experience is enough to entice them back for another year - or three more.

About 20 students will celebrate their fourth year with the band this summer, Mr. Santa-Emma said.

Eric McEwen, 16, will return for his second year in the program.

Eric, who plays the bass drum for the band, said participating "can be pretty stressful" but fun.

"I met a lot of people," he said, "and I'd like to go back and see them."

Because band and choir members hail from all over the state, the young musicians meet new people from different backgrounds. Mr. Santa-Emma said when urban students get to meet their rural counterparts, "They find out they actually have a lot in common."

One thing many of them have in common is sacrifice. Rory Fowler, 16, of Oak Harbor, said he's missing soccer camp to play the snare drum with the band.

"Band is more important to me," he said.

The band has performed at the fair since 1925, the choir since 1963.

According to an Ohio State Fair, members of this year's All-Ohio State Fair Band include:

From Lucas County schools: Joseph Basel, James Basel, Lisa Borysiak, Ashley Foster, Kaleb Kellogg, Joshua Kellogg, and Kelsey Webb.

From Ottawa County schools: Justin Bless, Christle Collins, Clayton Finken, Rory Fowler, Bridget Fritsch, Jessica Gilbert, Jennifer Myers, Ava Slotnick, and Josie Truax.

Fom Sandusky County schools: Nick Baker, Justin Fisher, David Hill, Angela Kovaleski, and Brian Setzler.

From Wood County schools: Justin Collier, Elizabeth Jullen, Eric McEwen, Andrew North, Amber Noykos, Jonathan Routzon, and Larissa Wymer.

Members of this year's All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir include:

From Lucas County schools: Eric Smith

From Ottawa County schools: Paul Bolin III and Abby Hirt.

From Sandusky County schools: Sarah Carver, Dustin Dennis, Corrine Hammer, Joshua Jones, Kurtis Krailick, Jessica Luty, Ryan Mygrant, and Meranda Reino.

From Wood County schools: Elizabeth Dunn.

Contact Lindsey Mergener at:

or 419-724-6050.

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