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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Concert organizer going out on a high note

Coordinating a concert featuring 2,600 elementary school kids blasting brass horns, blowing through woodwinds and dragging bows across stringed instruments seems nothing short of miraculous.

But the annual Band and Strings Spectacular has become a “well-oiled machine” under Dave Weatherred, visual and performing arts coordinator at Spokane Public Schools, who has organized it for 18 years. He ended his role on a high note at Tuesday night’s concert by conducting a song at the event for the first and last time; he’s moving on to other administrative duties.

“I’m a musician before any of this,” said Weatherred, a trombone player and community wind ensemble conductor in his off time. “I like to conduct. I always have. It’s much better than this organizing.”

Weatherred has worked with student musicians and music teachers in Spokane Public Schools for 28 years. He spent 11 years as Ferris High School’s band director before moving into an administrative position.

“I’m excited to conduct again,” he told 425 sixth-graders Tuesday while rehearsing “Along Came a Spider” at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. He didn’t go easy on them either. “Two drummers messed up that rest. I don’t care who you are, but don’t do it again,” he warned.

He added, “It’s just really cool to be leading kids with a baton in my hands, especially when it comes together.”

While conducting is his first joy, Weatherred has appreciated the challenge of coordinating students from 36 elementary schools in the annual concert.

Wilson Elementary sixth-grader David Dunlap – a trombone player – said he wished all kids could have the experience. “Some kids, they don’t get the best in life,” he said. “Playing an instrument can bring joy to them.”

Lexi McFarlane started playing a stand-up bass two years ago. “No one else was doing it, and I wanted to be unique,” she said.

Students rehearsing for Tuesday’s concert seemed unafraid about playing in front of more than 6,000 spectators at the Arena.

“I just look down at my trombone and play,” Dunlap said.

Besides, noted Sam Kindl, “With all the people playing, it’s not the end of the world if you mess up.”