Some players will feel butterflies in their stomachs. There may even be some trembling hands. For a few of the performers, this is no big deal — they’ve been through it all before. For a handful, it will be easy; they’ve already taken and passed a much tougher test.
Catherine Le, Hannah Dunbar, Tay’lia Owens and Josh Wheeler attended last month’s all-state music festival in Anchorage, representing Kodiak High School in Alaska’s version of a state music championship.
Wheeler played tuba in the all-state band while Le and Owens sang in the all-female choir and Dunbar performed in the mixed male-female choir.
The festival is one of two put on by the Alaska State Activities Association. The competition-based solo and ensemble music festival takes place in the spring. The fall festival is more of a showcase.
Each performer has been practicing with their voice or instrument for years, but it took another level of effort to perform at an all-state level, Owens said.
“I knew it was going to be hard going into it, even more intense (than normal),” she said.
In addition to offering an opportunity for high school musicians to play with their peers from across the state, the festival is a chance for the state’s best and brightest to get advice from some of the top directors in the country.
“We had Sandra Snow (of Michigan State University), and she was really amazing,” Le said. “She addressed us as women instead of girls, and I really liked that.”
For the four from Kodiak, the work began a few weeks prior to the weekend festival. They received their music in advance, and without much prompting from teachers, went to work.
“Most of the high school kids are to the point now where they can practice their notes on their own,” said Laura Blackwood, the high school choir director.
“I definitely breathed that music; I had it on my iPod; I couldn’t get it out of my head for a week,” Owens said.
Once in Anchorage, Kodiak’s students divided into their respective choir and band groups. They underwent a face-to-face test from a judge to determine their skill, then had just two days to meet their counterparts from other schools and get ready for the performance. They practiced 12 hours each day, and once Saturday rolled around, were ready to launch into a variety of classical and modern music at West Anchorage’s auditorium.
To a non-musician, it sounds like a grueling schedule, but for Kodiak’s performers, it was a shot of excitement.
“It was a blast,” Dunbar said. “It was cool to be immersed in the music and not have to worry about anything else.”
The musical skill of Kodiak’s state performers and the talent of their classmates go on display at tonight’s winter concert, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium. Admission is free.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the sounds
Kodiak High School band, orchestra and choir students present their winter concert today at 7 p.m. in the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium. Admission is free.