The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 4, 2013

Local students take part in honor ensembles

JOHNSTOWN — Two area high school students took their musical talents all the way to Nashville.

Jonathan Skufca, a senior at Greater Johnstown High School, and Aaron Marko, a senior at Westmont Hilltop High School, were selected as members of the 2013 National Association for Music Education’s All-National Honor Ensembles and traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to participate in a gala concert that was held Oct. 30 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

More than 670 high school students from across the country were selected to participate.

The All-National Honors Ensembles, consisting of a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed chorus and jazz ensemble, was organized by members of the National Association for Music Education.

The concert band and symphony orchestra had approximately 150 instrumentalists, the jazz ensemble had 20 instrumentalists and the mixed chorus had 350 vocalists.

Skufca, who plays the trombone, played in the National Concert Band.

Marko is a French horn player and played with the National Orchestra.

Both students started locally at the Pennsylvania Music Education Association District Band and Orchestra festival. They then advanced to the state’s Regional Band and Orchestra and on to the Pennsylvania All-State Band and Orchestra.

Only those students who qualified for the state’s All-State Band and Orchestra were eligible to audition for the All-National Honor Ensembles.

For their audition, both students submitted online videos and learned they were accepted into the program over the summer.

Greater Johnstown High School music teacher Adam Bukosky said Skufca is one of those students he loves to teach.

“He soaks up everything like a sponge and is very dedicated and his love and passion for music is tremendous,” he said.

Bukosky said to be accepted into the All-National Honor Ensembles is an impressive feat.

“To be picked from all over the country is a huge honor; this is the creme de la creme,” he said.

Joshua Brumbaugh, Westmont School District band director and director of the high school orchestra, said Marko is one of the most musically talented students he’s seen since teaching in the district.

“He goes above and beyond and takes advantage of every musical opportunity he can like music festivals, taking private lessons, playing with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and a principal with the Johnstown Symphony Youth Orchestra,” he said. “He’s a great musical kid.”

After graduation, Skufca plans to attend college and pursue a career as a music industry lawyer.

Marko received a Marine Corps Scholarship and will be performing in the Marine Corps Band for four years before attending college.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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