Band and Orchestra students on their way to All-State

Kyla Barnett , Features Editor

Four band members and 10 orchestra members from Manhattan High were selected for the Kansas Music Educators Association’s All-State groups. The students were among the 18 MHS band members and 24 MHS orchestra members who auditioned at Salina Central High School on Jan. 18.

“We’re very proud of the four that got in and… all of the ones who chose to work hard and audition,” band director Joel Gittle said.

Thousands of students from all over the state auditioned for all state this year competing for 86 orchestra openings.

“[At] All-State you never know what’s going to happen with any audition,” orchestra director Nate McClendon said. “It’s this way because you get one shot at doing something and anything could happen. But again, it’s so competitive…. You can’t really control what happens and there’s some students that may outplay you or have a really good day.”

Some of the students felt confident coming out of their auditions, while others did not. Many of the students felt extremely nervous in spite of their rigorous preparation. 

“I was a little nervous but I think it went pretty well,” sophomore violinist Ava Chae said. “A lot of people showed up, and quite a bit from Manhattan came so we all supported each other.”

Some students felt stressed because of the timing of their auditions. Unlike Regional Orchestra auditions, students are given a set audition time, when they must play or forfeit their audition.

“I personally thought that was one of my worst auditions I’ve ever done,” sophomore clarinetist Jecca Park said. “I was [stressed]. I played at 2:45 [p.m.] which was at the very end slot kind of area.”

Senior violinist Grace Hart said All-State is a very special experience that she will miss after high school. 

“It’s a great opportunity to play in [All-State orchestra]. For a lot of kids, it’s the greatest ensemble they will ever get a chance to play in,” Hart said. “I was stressed out my first two years because I really wanted to be a part of that but this year I felt confident because I felt better prepared.”

Senior bassoonist Josh Brandt agrees that it is one of the most challenging things high school musicians will do. Brandt believes it is a great opportunity for students to progress their skills.

“I felt ok [after auditioning]… there is no perfect audition,” Brandt said. “We were super proud of those who did [make it in]. [It was] overall a success. I’m really proud of all of those who tried out, even if they didn’t make it… a big thumbs up to all.”

After a change to the KMEA guidelines last year, freshmen were allowed to audition for All-State for the first time this year. The first and only freshman to make it in to All-State from MHS was Julius Newman.

“I know we got one freshman in… we talked about it in class, so I’m like ‘You’ve got to make it in Julius’ and he did,” McClendon said.

KMEA has also decided that for the first year, orchestra students are going to have to do another audition once they get to All-State. This audition will determine their final seating in the orchestra.

“When they seat you, you’ll be seated according to your score and then you do another audition,” McClendon said. “They’ll have another audition and then they’ll be reseated based on that audition.

All students that made it into All-State will head to Wichita on Feb. 27 where the orchestra will be reseated and the groups will begin practicing. They will practice Feb. 27-29 until the All-State concert. The concert will be  Feb. 29 at the CenturyⅡtheater in Wichita.

McClendon and Gittle expressed their pride for the students who auditioned.

“[We’re] proud of our kids, very, very proud of our kids. We wish all of them could have [auditioned],” Gittle said.