Arts and Entertainment

Strike up the bands, choirs

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Sequim Gazette

Consider this the all-star game of state high school music.

The stars aligned for 25 Sequim High School students this winter as they earned all-state status. They are scheduled to perform at the Washington Music Educator’s Conference this weekend in Yakima.

The list includes 20 SHS band members along with five all-state choir singers.

Earning a trip to Yakima requires band members to play and record a trio of pieces that give judges an idea of their skill and playing acumen.

Choir singers also were recorded, having to sing scales and “America the Beautiful” without accompaniment.

The recordings are sent to state judges, who return a list of qualifiers to high school band directors.

“Personally (I) thought I did really bad,” said first-time all-state qualifier Rebecca Case, a bassoon player for the past six years. “It was the most nervous I’ve been in my life. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.”

Back in nick of time
All-state member Fallon Schneider plays the bass clarinet. After attending Sequim High as a freshman, she moved to Tacoma and moved back recently — a day before all-state audition recordings were due.

“I had to start over on the first song,” Schneider says. “I’m pretty excited (to go).”
Last year, Sequim High tallied 24 all-state members — 17 from the SHS band and seven from the choir — to set a school record.

Consider that record broken once again.

“I don’t think any of us expected to make it,” says Nick Bowden, talking with three other Sequim High percussionists.

“There’s not a long time to learn (the pieces),” Jason Kowitz added.

An all-state member his sophomore year, Bowden said all the pieces he and fellow drummers were required to play corresponded in part to what band members were doing.

A full weekend
The students travel to Yakima and get a tour of the area on the first day, then spend much of Saturday and Sunday in rehearsals, up to six or seven hours per day, says clarinet player Kristen Torres, an all-state band member for the second time.

During the rehearsals, band members practice up to a half-dozen songs while getting instruction from educators from top high schools such as Franklin Pierce and Thomas Jefferson High and from Brass Band Northwest, the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University.

Choir members rehearse a number of pieces — some in English, some in Italian, others in French — and get lessons from instructors from Western Washington University, Willamette University, Central Washington University and other top state schools.

Jessica Lauritzen, who sings with the treble choir at all-state, and Haleigh Harrison, who sings with the symphonic choir there, say that as long as they warm up correctly, they’ll be able to handle the six or seven hours of daily practice.

Statewide socializing
“The practices were, for me, kind of boring … but socializing was fun,” says Torres, who notes that weekend organizers generally plan a dance or some other form of social event to give students a chance to meet musicians from across the state.

“We had good band directors (who) gave good tips,” says Torres, who has play-
ed the clarinet for seven years.

On Monday, the all-state event’s final day, all-state band and choir members perform at the All-State Gala Capitol Concert and All-State Gala SunDome Concert.

“I’m not sure what we’re singing (at the event),” says Lauritzen, a junior who’s been in choir since sixth grade and hopes to sing in college.

Like Lauritzen, Harrison — a choir singer in her second year — says she enjoys singing in Italian more than English or French.

“The sound we can give off can be beautiful; it can be a powerful thing,” Harrison says.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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