Wheeling Park High School senior Sarah Ihlenfeld will begin her fourth and final series of Festival of Sound performances when she takes the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Stage Friday evening.
The Patriot strings student and cellist has also been a member of the Wheeling Park High School Choir. Ihlenfeld said she has truly enjoyed her three previous years taking part in Festival of Sound, and she is looking forward to this year’s event. Ihlenfeld said there are particular Festival of Sound moments that she enjoys each year.
“I like the songs in which the strings, band and choir are all performing,” she said. “It is so much fun when we come together like that. I love to be a part of it.”
“I also like to watch the other groups when I’m not performing,” she added. “If I have a few seconds, I enjoy that. I’ll find a spot where I can see the band or choir (students) perform, and I enjoy that too…It’s my favorite concert every year.”
Ihlenfeld has been a part of many important events in her time at Wheeling Park High School. In addition to her three years of Festival of Sound, she’s also has been a member of two consecutive West Virginia speech and debate championship teams. She will be a captain on this year’s team, and she is confident that the Patriot speech and debate team will take home its 39th consecutive speech and date state title in 2018.
Ihlenfeld is also an athlete. She is a member of the Wheeling Park soccer and track teams. She said the Patriot soccer team had another great year, and she is looking to improve on an impressive junior-year track campaign.
“Our 4×8 relay team set a school record,” Ihlenfeld said. “We will have some (runners) to replace, but I think we could have a great track season. I think we could medal at the state level.”
Most importantly, Ihlenfeld is an amazing student. She maintains a 5.0 grade-point average, and she was named in September as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Her favorite class is AP Government.
Ihlenfeld plans to attend college, but she has not decided which college or university she will attend. She plans to major in political science or international relations. Ihlenfeld said she will likely be involved in athletics on the club level.
But, there is one thing of which Ihlenfeld is certain, music will always be an important in her life.
“I started playing cello in the fourth grade,” she said. “I think it’s a beautiful instrument. All of the colleges and universities I’m considering have orchestras. I’ll definitely keep playing cello.”
Ihlenfeld said she experiences excitement, but not necessarily nervousness, when she performs at Festival of Sound. She said the number of musicians taking part in the event alleviates a lot of individual pressure.
Ihlenfeld said Festival of Sound, from the opening number to the event’s traditional closer of “Hallelujah Chorus,” leaves her feeling exhilarated. She believes the audience leaves with the same feeling.
“Festival of Sound gets you into the spirit of the holiday,” Ihlenfeld said. “It always puts me in a good mood, and you always leave happy.”
Photo: Wheeling Park Senior Sarah Ihlenfeld is shown in the school’s music room practicing for this year’s Festival of Sound. It will be the fourth Festival of Sound in which she’s performed.