By MARY RAINWATER
A Westwood High School band student is being given the opportunity of a lifetime — a chance to perform at the famous Carnegie Hall — and is seeking some help from the community to get her there.
Faith Dingas, a senior French horn player with the WHS Panther Band, was selected to perform with other elite students from all over the United States (and internationally as well) at Carnegie Hall in New York as part of its Honors Performance Series.
“I am so excited. I am ecstatic,” Dingas said, explaining that she found out about her making the band in late October. “I had to audition — I sent in a recording of myself playing along with my performance resume in late July.”
The Carnegie Honors Performance Series takes place from Feb. 6-10, with the concert to take place on Feb. 9.
While no fundraisers have been set as yet, Dingas said that the WHS Band Boosters is helping her raise the $2,000 needed for the trip. Donations from those in the community are very welcome, and may be sent to WHS Band Director Richard Evans with checks made payable to Westwood Band Boosters.
“I have about $400 so far,” Dingas said. “My uncle is a band director in Odessa. He is taking a few students as well and I will be traveling with them.”
Dingas, the daughter of Greg and Norina Dingas of Palestine, began her band career in the sixth grade. The current WHS Band Drum Major has performed in the UIL All-Region Band and at State Solo and Ensemble competition.
“I like playing,” she said. “It is a way for me to express certain feelings. I love the connection my life can have with music — how it can have an influence around the world.”
According to its website, the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall “challenges elite students to perform at their very best.”
Students rehearse and perform under master conductors and have the opportunity to perform before invited representatives from collegiate and professional music programs. Though much of the students’ time is focused on performance preparation, the week also allows students to experience the best of the sights and the performance arts in New York City.
John E. Nichols, a 1977 Palestine High School graduate, recently received the prestigious Texas Taxpayers and Research Association 's Del Threadgill Outstanding Tax Professional Award for 2013 — the only person to receive the award in Texas this year.
Nichols, who lives in Lake Jackson, is director of state and local taxes for Dow Chemical.
He is the son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Charles “Chuck” Nichols of Palestine.
Nichols and his wife, Claire, have three children (Austin Nichols, Elizabeth Nichols-Gruning and Rachel Nichols) and one grandson, Corbin Nichols.
Claire is a 1981 graduate of PHS.