By Crystal Hayduk
Four Beach Middle School (BMS) music students were chosen to perform with the All-State ensembles at the 15th annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC) on Jan. 18 at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.
Eighth-graders Trilian Krug (percussion) and Gus Alafita (trumpet) will play with the All-State Middle School Band.
Krug is making a repeat performance at the conference, after being selected as a seventh grader last year. “Being part of the All-State Band is so amazing,” she said. “You get to meet cool people and experience being in a band where everyone is serious. It’s a different feeling when you have more complex music and you learn under a different conductor.”
Alafita auditioned for the first time in October, but he said he felt pretty confident about his chances to attain a spot despite the extensive competition. “I knew I had done the work, and I not only got in, but I’m going to be the first chair for the trumpet section,” he said.
BMS band director, Katy Steklac, completely understands what it’s like for her young students to audition for All-State. “I auditioned for All-State during my senior year of high school,” she said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t earn a spot in the ensemble. I remember it being extremely intimidating, knowing that I was competing against thousands of other students from across the state.
“The expectations have only been raised since I auditioned 11 years ago, which is a true testament to how skilled these middle school musicians are. They practiced a great deal to prepare their music, and we are excited to celebrate their hard work,” said Steklac.
Two string students will join the All-State Middle School Orchestra.
Seventh-grader Luke Mourad plays the cello. “Knowing how hard it is to get into All-State, especially for students in seventh grade, I wasn’t that hopeful about getting in,” he said. “I was hoping for an honorable mention rating at best, so I was surprised to be chosen. I’m happy to play in this orchestra. I know everyone who gets in is really good.”
Seren Angus, an eighth-grade student making her second appearance at the conference, plays the bass. She said she spent a great deal of time and energy preparing for her audition, not only practicing music on her instrument, but also thinking through the music while running on the school’s cross-country team.
Students who audition for All-State ensembles travel to Saline High School in late October to produce a blind recording that includes playing etudes (short songs that demonstrate skill) and scales, as well as a test of sight-reading unfamiliar music.
Nathan Peters, the middle school orchestra director, said he is proud of all of the students who auditioned.
“I am very proud of Seren for being accepted for a second year in a row and for being in the first couple chairs of the bass section each year,” said Peters. “Her bass teacher, Jed Fritzemeier, is proud of her, too.
“I am also very proud of Luke for being accepted as a seventh grader in the cello section, which usually includes only 12-14 of the best cellists in the state. His cello teacher, Bethany Bagbey, is also proud of him.”
All-State concerts are made possible through the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA). It is reported on www.msboa.org that more than 2,000 students statewide audition for a total of five ensembles containing 400 seats.
From www.michiganmusicconference.org, “The purpose of the Michigan Music Conference is to provide relevant professional development and vibrant musical experiences that support music education for educators and their students.”