Musicians Prepare for All-State


Anna Wickliffe

Every year in April, the top orchestra, band, and choral students of Westminster prepare to go to the Classic Center in Athens to participate in the Georgia All-state concert. All-state is an opportunity for musicians to play with top musical students from around the state and perform a concert. They practice for hours in order to prepare for the rigorous audition process and concert, and only the very best of the best are selected for the final concert.

Unfortunately because of COVID, only Band All-state and Orchestra All-state have been able to be held this year. Currently there are eleven middle school students from Westminster participating in orchestra and five participating in band All-state. 

Though All- state Orchestra and Band are still happening even with COVID, some changes have been made not only to the audition process but also the final concert. The auditions this year were held virtually, where students submitted a video in place of a live audition. Band instructor Paige Barber describes the new challenges with the audition process. “Sometimes [performing in front of live people] makes kids nervous” says Barber, “Sometimes it makes them more comfortable. This year it’s all been virtual, so it’s just been a kid in a room, and it could be in [the band room], it could be their bedroom, but also I feel that sound quality has affected some of the students’ scores.”

Even though the concert is not happening until April, students start preparing for the auditions as early as August. Orchestra instructor Bo Na says that students prepare extensively for the two rounds of auditions even with the changes in COVID. “The audition materials come out in summer in August, and it’s consistent with scales you have to play so they can tell you have a good posture, tone, and then also the technique.” Students also have to sight read a piece of music meaning they have thirty seconds to study a piece of music and then have to play it on the spot for a group of two to four judges.” 

Normally up to ten thousand students apply for the first round of auditions, and about 1000 make it to the second round, and only 168 students from all across the state qualify for Orchestra All-state. Similarly, Baber estimates that about 1000 people apply for All-state band, and 144 get in.

This year, 16 Westminster students made All-state. The All-state auditions are very rigorous and competitive, so it is still an accomplishment to have tried out, even for the students who weren’t selected. “[The All-state Judges] are picking the top of the top, so it’s very rigorous and it’s a tough decision and of course music can be very subjective so always when the audition results come out there’s always heartbreaking moments where sometimes you don’t get selected,” says Na. “But the importance is whether you make it or not the process that you have to go through and they put on so much you have to play in front of judges and learn about confidence and practicing and so it’s a really really great opportunity for students to grow whether you make it or not.” 

The 11 students selected for All-state Orchestra are Shavani Dantuluri, Sophia Wang, Gavin Rivas, Harper Bateman, Eric Jiang, Luca Smith, Alex Na, Keira Klein, Maggie Liu, Arnika Alikhani, Dylan Song. The 5 students selected for All-state Band are Cody Ji, Ethan Zhou, Philip Williams, Tommy Weng, Eve Gordon.

Congratulations to our All-state cats, and good luck!!