Sitting on the edge of the PAC stage, Senior Sejoon Jun remembered when he got the news that he got into the All-State Orchestra. He saw the results on the All-State website and he and his family had a celebratory dinner. He felt elated. Now, musicians from all of Missouri will either experience the same feelings, or the opposite.
On Dec.1, RBHS students will compete against high school musicians from all over the state for chairs in their respective ensembles: All-State Band, or All-State Orchestra.
All-State Band and All-State Orchestra are groups that require auditions. Before the audition, students for All-State Orchestra sign up online, while students auditioning for All-State Band sign up on a paper on the audition day. If a student gets into All-State, he or she will be able to perform at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in the Lake of the Ozarks on Jan 26. and spend three school days at the resort for rehearsals.
Jun, a violinist, has been a member of All-State Orchestra for three years. Jun said he believes that only the cream of the crop can make it into these highly competitive ensembles. In his case, the orchestra selects 32 violins out of a pool of about 200 students all over Missouri. The odds of getting in are 16 percent or lower as a violinist.
“It’s the same for the other string instruments too,” Jun said, “It’s highly competitive with roughly the same numbers and vicious competition.”
As for the All-State Band, the hordes of students are more massive, and the competition for seats is very high. Some of the players for band will go into the All-State Orchestra so first chair has to be determined. So, they have a different system than All-State Orchestra. Sophomore tenor saxophonist Justin Hahm auditioned last year and couldn’t get in, but has high hopes to get in this year. He said that students audition for their instrument and have frequent callbacks where the student plays the excerpts again. He also said that people stay at HHS, where All-State band auditions are held, for as long as they remain in the elimination rounds.
“The hallways at Hickman are very hectic on the audition day,” Hahm said. “Some people sleep in the hallways, and last year one person brought a T.V. and hosted a Super Smash Bros. tournament right in the hallway.”
As for the orchestra auditions, the process is much simpler. The audition takes around 15 minutes at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and for most instruments, the musician enters a room,and the blind auditions commence. Afterwards, the judges dismiss the student and they wait for their audition results.
Junior Eric Kwon, who has gotten into All-State for two years as a violinist, said that if a student does get in it is a fun and rewarding experience. However,All-State is a lot of hard work.
“The schedule starts at 7 or 8 o’clock with sectionals,” Kwon said. “Then you have rehearsal together as an orchestra, and you have a rehearsal with short breaks until 10 P.M. or sometimes midnight.”
Looking back on his experiences before All-State auditions, Kwon also had some advice for students auditioning this year. He said that students should go to a quiet place and just practice for an hour or two without anything distracting in the room.
“Auditioning is a hard experience,” Kwon said, “If it’s your first audition, you should practice a lot to to feel confident on that day. Practice [your excerpts or etudes,] striving for quality over quantity.”
Freshman trumpet player Anthony Wu, hopes that he will get in and be able to go into the All-State Band. He has been practicing since August and said he won’t care much if he does not get in.
“I feel less pressure in making All-State band than other activities,” Wu said. “It would be amazing if I got in, but I’m only a freshman after all.”
Hahm also has some advice for band students auditioning for All-State Band.
“If you get in, that’s great,” Hahm said, “But if you don’t get in, that’s fine because the competition is so high. When you come in [to audition], at least know the notes and rhythms so that you come in confident. Then you have a bit of a chance.”
As auditions come up, one thing is guaranteed; RBHS students will make it into All-State Band or Orchestra. The real question is who.
“All-State is a lot of hard work,” Kwon said. “But it’s a great place to be because you’re around great musicians and you can play in an amazing ensemble.”
How ready are you for All-State? Let us know in the comments below.