All-State: Choir, band, orchestra students excel at state-wide music contest

Ellen Gustavson/Staff Writer

An impressive 29 students from the CFHS choir, band and orchestra were selected for the Iowa All-State Music Festival. Auditions were held at Hampton High School on Saturday, Oct. 24. The festival will be held in Ames, from Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 19-21. It ends with a performance at the Hilton Coliseum on Saturday.

There were 10 choir students selected, including Megan Pattee, Ashley Mason, Sarah Welter and Carly Naaktgeboren for soprano; Ebony Kunkle, Samantha Takes and Kassy Salmon for alto; Carter Allen and Eric Neill for tenor, and Ben Fagersten for bass.
Choral director Kendra Wohlert was pleased with the results. “I am very proud of all my students and the hard work they put into this audition,” she said.

Although auditions can be very nerve-racking, some of the anxiety was lessened for choir students because they tried out in groups. “Ms. Wohlert puts groups of two, three or four together based on how well the singers sound together, how they blend and how they compliment each other,” senior All-Stater Kassy Salmon said. “I was basically sick to my stomach with nerves, but my group was really awesome, and I had a good time during the auditions. It was the waiting after that got to me.”

Nine band students qualified, two of whom were selected to play in the orchestra. The students in the All-State band include Nick Carlo on clarinet; Reed Bowden on trumpet; Jason Geisler on horn; Chris Kempf on bass trombone; Karl Sadkowski on bassoon; Ian Abbott on baritone saxophone; and Alexandra Redfern on percussion. Bassoon player Chelsea Hall and trombone player Paul Strike were selected to play in the orchestra.

Four band students were also chosen as alternates, including Monica Clark and Rhydian Talbot on flute, Louis Redfern on tenor saxophone and Justin Marshall on bassoon. Being selected as an alternate means, as band director Gerald Ramsey explained, “They were deemed to be All-State caliber, and if openings exist (if another district did not fill all of their spots, or if a selected student should be unable to participate), these alternates could be invited to fill them.”

After all the preparation for All-State, students who made it were very happy. Junior All-Stater Chris Kempf summed it up well.
“It feels good,” he said simply.

The 10 orchestra students chosen were Hannah Howland, Riley Martin, Amelia Sutton, Alexandra Bowman, Erik Olsen and Julia Liu on violin; Elizabeth Bailey and Gwen Farber on viola; Dan Harter on violoncello, and Ann Fienup on harp. Three alternates were also selected, including Vanessa Horstman on violin, Jakob Stoner on string bass and Aaron Jepsen on cello.

Students have many reasons to be eager to be a part of All-State. First year All-Stater and freshman Ann Fienup said, “I’m way excited because I get to go play with a bunch of other really amazing musicians and make fabulous music.”

Orchestra director Scott Hall said he feels very proud to see the students’ hard work pay off. “The students selected now have the opportunity to work even more and prepare to play music at a high level and continue to develop their musical skills,” he said. “All the students that worked for these auditions become a better musician and human being.”

According to band director Kyle Engelhardt, only 1.7 percent of all students that tried out across the state were accepted. But, all the music directors agree that it is not only the students who make All-State who benefit from this experience.

“We’re very proud of all the students that made All-State this year, as well as those that tried out but didn’t make it in,” Engelhardt said. “It’s all about getting better through the process of trying out – everyone learns and gets better through this experience.”

Likewise, Wohlert said, “Those who make it have worked hard, are talented and deserve to be there. At the same time, many who have worked just as hard and are just as talented are not accepted. With the subjective nature of this competition, I most firmly believe in the ‘process’ as the most valuable and educational aspect.”

Some students have even been practicing since the beginning of August. “These students can play. They have truly worked and persevered and have honed their skills to a level where this honor is truly deserved,” Hall said.

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