34 musicians earn All State spots

Linden Terpstra/Staff Writer

Cedar Falls had 34 musicians selected to participate at the annual Iowa All-State Music Festival in Hampton on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The All-State Festival takes place on Nov. 20 to 22. The selected musicians will perform at the culminating concert at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
The band was pleased with the day after 11 students and one alternate qualified. “It was a great day. There were a lot of kids who were selected, and we were really happy about that,” CFHS band director Gerald Ramsey said.

The band members selected include Sarah Halloran on flute; Elise Berry on oboe; Nick Carlo, Bethany Olson, Vanessa Hensley and Jasmine Singh on clarinet; Mark Lukasiewicz on tenor sax; Louis Redfern on bari sax; Michael Miller on trumpet; Paul Strike on trombone; Steve Ramsey on bass trombone; and an alternate, Ian Abbott on tenor sax.

Though many practiced for the audition, some were not selected. “There were some students that were well prepared for the day but maybe didn’t have their best audition, and for one reason or another were not selected,” Ramsey said.

Many people view being selected as a great accomplishment. “I have seen that 1.5 percent of Iowa high school music students are selected for participation, so to get in is an elite honor,” Ramsey said.

Berry was selected for her fourth year as an All-State participant. “I was nervous walking in because it was my final year, and I really wanted to be a four-year All-Stater. I was also determined to do my best, and I really think I did,” Berry said.

Because of her experience, Berry knew what she must do in order to make it. “I knew I could net let myself blow it; I worked too hard to not play the music the way I wanted,” she said. “The judge sat directly across from me, so I could see him staring at me. It was slightly terrifying, but I knew what I needed to do, and I knew I could accomplish it. I nailed my scales, so I left on a good note.”

The competition is full of many emotions that can change in an instant during the frantic audition. “All-State is so nerve-wracking. From the moment you walk into Hampton-Dumont High School, you are immersed into a frantic world of screaming and crying. People are hurriedly playing through scales and last minute excerpts from prepared pieces,” Berry said. “Just being in the atmosphere is enough to get the adrenaline pumping.”

Strike was selected as an alternate last year, but prepared extra to be selected second trombone at All-State. “I was practicing up to two hours every night for the last two weeks at least,” Strike said.

Strike’s tedious practicing prepared him for the difficult audition. “First, we play a 60-90 second excerpt of a solo. Next, the judge picks out a part of each of the two etudes we had to prepare, and we play those excerpts. Then, we have to draw a card with two scales on it, and we have to play the scales, along with a scale of your choice. Finally, you play your chromatic scale. All scales are done as 16th notes, with its quarter note at 88 beats per minute,” Strike said.
Orchestra Director Scott Hall was also pleased with the results of the orchestra students at the All-State auditions. The nine students selected include Hannah Howland, Riley Martin, Vanessa Horstman, Amelia Sutton and Erik Olsen, all on violin; Elizabeth Bailey on viola; Olivia Hahn and Francisco Villavicencio on cello and Jakob Stoner on bass.

“I am proud of all the students who tried out. It’s the process and preparation that makes students who they are,” Hall said.

Hall is eager for the experience ahead of the musicians. “Overall, I am very pleased with the turn out. The students who were selected have such a great opportunity ahead of them; working hard in rehearsals and performing great music at a high level at the Iowa All-State Festival,” he said.

Four-year All-Stater Hahn felt pressure to make it again for herself. “I was trying to be really professional because I didn’t want her to think that I wasn’t prepared because I was. I was nervous, and I had a lot of pressure to make it this year. I just wanted to live up to that, and I wanted it for myself,” Hahn said.

Horstman, who made it for her first year, felt the nervous energy this year after being chosen as an alternate last year. “Before I performed, I just smiled and tried to keep myself calm through all the nerves even though my hands were shaky. I just wanted to do my personal best no matter what happened in the end,” Horstman said. “I just prayed before I went in. I asked God just to help me do what I came here to do, and do my very best, hopefully calming my nerves. I gave it my all, which was the best I could do for how anxious I was, so I think it went OK.”
Horstman was ecstatic after finding out she had been chosen.

“When the scroll of names fell, it just gets dead silent, and it’s really cool when the names just drop, so I was really excited when I saw my name for my first year of making it,” she said.
She commends the school for its excellent musical directors.

“In all, eight were chosen from the district, five from Cedar Falls. It was just a great feeling we all had accomplished. It just goes to show how far our teachers help us out, and we all really represented our school well,” Horstman said.

The choir qualified 15 members under the supervision of choir director Kendra Wohlert.
The members include Ali Stodard, Alice Miller, Natalie Takes and Ashley Mason on soprano; Catherine Dunbar, Samantha Takes and Ebony Kunkle on alto; Sam Lilja, Joe Fagersten and Daniel Veenstra on tenor and Ben Ulfers, Chris Bowden, Ben Fagersten, Mason Meyer and Rhys Talbot on bass.

“I was really proud with every one of them, those who made it and those who didn’t. They all worked really hard and worked together really well,” Wohlert said.

Wohlert was delighted with the students’ view of the competition. “They were always aware of the bigger picture of becoming a better musician,” she said. “The main goal for me is that they come out on the other end of this eight-week process as a better musician, to improve their abilities, and every single one of them did that.”

Each auditioning choir member must audition in a duet, trio or quartet, which is required to learn every part of all the songs, because on the day of the audition, they find out which excerpts of the songs they will sing.

Miller, a second year All-State participant, knows all too well how tedious the process can be.
“I have been practicing since the beginning of August. For the last few weeks, my quartet has been practicing almost every day,” Miller said. “Joe Fagersten, Ben Fagersten and Catherine Dunbar were in my quartet, and we all got along really well and worked really hard together, so when it came time to try out, we did really well and left feeling pretty good about our performance.”

The choir met as a last gathering before the long day ahead of them at Hampton. “Every year, the choir meets for breakfast at around 4:30 in the morning, and then takes the 6 a.m. bus to Hampton. It’s really early, but a really good way to start out the morning,” Miller said.
Senior Ali Stoddard also was selected for her second year.

“We had to sign up two times a week to practice with Mrs. Wohlert and our student teacher, Miss Bates. My quartet came in during the mornings and after school for at least 30-45 minutes each day we could,” Stoddard said.

After practicing many long hours, Stoddard felt confidence entering her audition. “I knew my quartet would do well, but it was up to the judge to decide that. It was in those songs that I had to show the judge what I’d prepared for those stressful months,” Stoddard said.
Senior Sam Lilja, who made it for his second year, was happy with the school’s turnout. “I’m really proud to be a part of such a strong music program through Cedar Falls. It’s really an honor to be part of something so spectacular, so astonishing,” he said.

To lots of students, the selection process can be an emotional time. “It’s so dramatic to find out whether you made it or not. A woman comes into the gym with a huge rolled up piece of paper. A hush fills over the entire room as people ‘shh’ to add more effect. She gets up on the ladder and tapes the paper high up on the wall. Quickly in unrolls,” Berry described. “People jump up and down hugging and screaming or else turn away with disappointed tears. However, nothing compares to the moment when you see your own name on the unrolled piece of paper under ‘Accepted.’”

Many students know the feelings of going through the All-State competition and understand how valuable it is. “Even though I didn’t make it my sophomore year, I was a little discouraged to do it the next year. I realize that even though I didn’t make it, I could still become a better musician, so I tried it again the next year, and I made it. It’s something I will never forget, and then this year, making it again, it’s just added to those memories,” Stoddard said. “This year will be really great, but even if you didn’t make it, don’t be discouraged. The experience of just trying out for All-State makes you a better musician in itself.”

Though it is a long, tedious and emotional process, auditioning at this competition gives you life-long understanding and experience. “It’s the experience of working together in a small group; it’s the experience of working on challenging music, and the experience of auditioning. It’s good for all the students to be exposed to all those experiences,” Wohlert said.

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