Musicians vie for seats in All-State ensembles


In the lobby of Hickman High School, hundreds of band students from around the state gathered to audition the All-State Concert and Jazz ensembles. To be selected to either group is an extremely prestigious honor. Photo by Alyssa Sykuta.

Alyssa Sykuta

In the lobby of Hickman High School, hundreds of band students from around the state gathered to audition for the All-State Concert and Jazz ensembles. To be selected to either group is an extremely prestigious honor. Photo by Alyssa Sykuta
By 9 a.m. Saturday, anyone hanging around Hickman High School and Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia witnessed a chaotic sight and heard an array of sounds. Host of the Missouri All-State Band and Orchestra auditions respectively, HHS and Memorial Union became home for a day to hundreds of students from around Missouri, instruments in hand, each vying for a seat in the prestigious ensemble.
In order to audition for state band, students first had to make their district’s concert or jazz band and audition Nov. 10. Orchestra students do not have districts. Of the 30 RBHS students to make the Northeast Missouri District Concert Band or Jazz Band, 22 arrived in the main commons of HHS at 8:30 a.m. for their chance at making one of the highly regarded bands.
While all of the musicians who auditioned from RBHS participate in the school’s band or jazz band programs, senior percussionist David Wang, who has made All-State Concert Band four times now, said the atmosphere at the state level is much more competitive than the normal high school band setting.
Senior Joel Pruitt, who auditioned for the state jazz band on drum set, agreed; he said determination to gain recognition as an outstanding musician sets district and state band students apart from the rest of the group.
“You have some kids in band who just really don’t want to be there, [and] they’re not going to audition for districts. So already at the district level you are kind of separating the people who care from the people who don’t,” Pruitt said. “So everyone in band is there with the same purpose; they’ve all got the same motivation, they all want to do really well, and that only intensifies at the state level.”
Rapidly fingering through scales, drumming on tables and playing through the audition pieces, musicians throughout the 11 hours from the start of auditions to the posting of the final results had wracking nerves. However, sophomore flutist Emily Franke found comfort in not zeroing in so much on the notes as the skills she knew would make her a better musician in the long run.
“I decided to focus more on how I audition. Like, how I stand, how I breathe, how I carry myself and how I acknowledge that I am being judged,” Franke said. “I really wanted to improve my auditioning skills more than my actual audition. I did know the music, and I was more worried about my nerves, but the pressure to progress was gone, so in the end I was just having a good time performing for the judges and for myself, and I just made music.”
In the end, 10 RBHS students took seats in the All-State Concert Band, All-State Jazz Band, Honorable Mention Jazz Band and one as an alternate. RBHS band director Steve Mathews said this number of students accepted is normal, with a range in the past years of eight to 13 students who end up making bands at the state level.
Much to his surprise, senior Jacob Freyermuth landed fifth chair clarinet in the All-State Concert Band. Waiting six hours between his arrival at HHS and his first audition, another three hours before his call-back and yet another hour before judges posted the results, Freyermuth exploded with excitement at seeing his name on the list of lucky clarinets. His hours of practicing each day for the past month had paid off.
“I ran around a little bit, freaked out,” Freyermuth said. “It took a little bit of time to process so I went outside and screamed a little bit, called a lot of people. It was pretty exciting.”
Though many students ended the day in disappointment, those who the judges found exceptional will have a unique experience as members of the All-State Bands. The chance to play with musicians other than their fellow RBHS band members, according to Mathews, is a valuable opportunity.
“It’s nice for these kids to compare themselves to other students,” Mathews said. “It’s just an honor to be able to play with students from all across the state.”
By Alyssa Sykuta
[nggallery id=212] All-State Concert Band
Jacob Freyermuth—5th chair clarinet
Ben Bergstrom—2nd chair alto saxophone
Stephanie Bonham—2nd chair baritone saxophone
Evan Schaffer—4th chair French horn
Daniel Shapiro—1st chair trumpet
Jonathan Ackmann—2nd chair trumpet
David Wang—percussion (chose to participate in All-State Choir instead)
All-State Concert Band Alternate:
Emily Franke—2nd alternate flute
All-State Jazz Band
Kaleb Jacks—2nd chair alto saxophone
Dalton Maggard—vibraphone
All-State Jazz Honorable Mention
Ben Bergstrom—2nd chair tenor saxophone
All-State Orchestra
Harrison Keithahn – 2nd violin