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4 Chelsea High School musicians chosen for All-State ensembles

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. Chelsea High School musicians earned seats in the All-State band and orchestra ensembles. They will perform Jan. 18 at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids. Front left: Peter Mourad (9, violin), Kara Feldkamp (12, clarinet); back left: Makenna Ford (11, bassoon), Clinton Nichols (10, trumpet).

By Crystal Hayduk

Four Chelsea High School (CHS) musicians were chosen to participate in All-State ensembles during the 15th annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC), which runs Jan. 16-18 in Grand Rapids.

After extensive rehearsals with some of the best high school music students in the state, they will perform in concerts on Jan. 18 at the DeVos Performance Hall.

Freshman Peter Mourad (violin) is the lone orchestra student selected to attend the conference this year. Mourad, who is also in his first year performing with Chelsea House Orchestra (CHO), received an honorable mention rating in seventh grade, but played in the All-State Middle School Orchestra as an eighth-grader last year. “I’m looking forward to playing more complex music than I usually get to perform,” he said.

CHS Orchestra Director Phillip Sylvester said it’s rare that a student is selected for All-State at the freshman level. “The competition gets much more difficult at the high school level because students in grades nine through 12 vie for seats in the same ensemble,” he said. “It takes a great deal more commitment to make it in high school than in middle school.”          

Sophomore Clinton Nichols (trumpet) makes his debut with the All-State Band following his second audition for the elite group. “The audition is very stressful,” he said. “But I’m excited about meeting people who are really into music,” he said.  

Senior Kara Feldkamp (clarinet) is making a repeat performance with the All-State Band. The CHS Drum Major and CHO member looks forward to expanding her experience with different ensembles to prepare for a future career in music education.  

This weekend marks junior Makenna Ford’s (bassoon) third time attending MMC since earning a seat as a seventh grader, in addition to receiving one honorable mention rating. Ford, who with Feldkamp and Mourad is also a member of CHO, said she likes to perform every chance she gets, and is happy to connect with friends who also play bassoon at the conference.  

When Ford found out she had been selected for the All-State Band, she was overjoyed. “I don’t even remember the audition because I had been in a car accident the day before and had a concussion. But I auditioned anyway.”

CHS Band Director Rick Catherman said he is proud of all of the CHS band students, especially Feldkamp, Ford, and Nichols for earning All-State honors. “It’s my understanding that more than 2,500 students from across Michigan auditioned for the ensembles, and for three of our band members to be selected is truly remarkable,” he said.

“A great deal of time and energy goes into preparing for the audition. The hours of practice, and the mental as well as musical demand requires focus and commitment on behalf of each of these students. To be chosen as the select few in earning All-State status is quite a rewarding honor.

“Our music department, school, and entire community can be proud knowing that we have such terrific student musicians representing us in this way. These are students of the utmost talent, but also of the highest character, integrity, and who have friendly and kind personalities.”

All-State concerts are made possible through the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA). Students undergo a challenging, blind recorded audition that includes playing etudes, scales, and a sight-reading test.

From the MMC website, “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.” 

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