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Eight Music Students to Represent Chelsea at Michigan Music Conference

Courtesy photo. Josh Gregory, an eighth-grader, will play violin in the All-State Middle School String Orchestra.

By Crystal Hayduk

Following the 2021 COVID-19 pause of student performances, live concerts will return for the 17th annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC), Jan. 27-29 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.Eight Chelsea School District (CSD) music students will be among the nearly 400 musicians gathering from around the state to perform in the ensembles.

Photo by Bethany Bagbey. Samantha Bieber, (grade 8) will play violin in the All-State Middle School String Orchestra.

Josh Gregory and Samantha Bieber, both eighth grade Beach Middle School (BMS) students who play the violin, will be members of the All-State Middle School String Orchestra.

Gregory, a Manchester resident, has been a School of Choice student in Chelsea since sixth grade, choosing the district because of its strong orchestra program, which is not available in his home district. His mom, Michelle, said her son has been playing the violin since the age of six. “We feel blessed to be here—like we won the lottery,” she said.

Gregory, who is also a member of the Jackson Youth Symphony Orchestra, said he was nervous about the audition last fall, especially after hearing the other good violinists in the warm-up room.  

He looks forward to meeting other student musicians and “…playing with the best people in the state in a great orchestra…” including Bieber, who is his stand partner at school.

Eighth-grade twins Brenna and Lucia Taylor, who play the double bass, were also selected, but were unable to accept due to a conflict.

Photo by Lynn Harris. Junior Peter Mourad (left), violinist, will perform in the All-State High School Orchestra; sophomore Seren Angus, double bassist, earned honorable mention for her audition.

Junior Peter Mourad will play in the All-State High School Full Orchestra. This is his fourth selection to All-State, but third time performing as a result of the 2021cancellation.

Sophomore Seren Angus, double bassist, received honorable mention.

Nathan Peters, BMS orchestra director, said he is proud of all the students who completed the audition process because it included difficult excerpts and the challenge of sightreading. Fewer students felt ready to audition this year as a result of issues related to the pandemic, but Peters expects more students will audition in the future. “Our orchestra program has had a member in the All-State program every year for many continuous years,” he said.

Peters thanked Jed Fritzemeier, Bethany Bagbey, and Daniel Winnick, the private music teachers of the students who were selected for All-State ensembles, whose work made their auditions possible.

Both students selected for the All-State Middle School Band play the French horn:  Catarina Rossi (seventh grade) and Libby Timberlake (eighth grade).

Photo by Katy Steklac. Seventh grader Catarina Rossi (left) and eighth grader Libby Timberlake will both play French horn in the All-State Middle School Band.

Rossi feels she made a “valuable choice” to audition, and plans to continue doing so when she’s in high school. Her grandfather was a band director who used to attend the MMC, and she knows he would be proud of her for making it.

Like the other students performing for All-State ensembles, Rossi is eager to expand her repertoire of challenging music and make new friends. “Playing in a large ensemble with this level of difficulty makes me feel so empowered,” she said.

Senior Clinton Nichols was selected for the All-State High School Band, but was unable to accept as his family moved out of state in late fall.

Katy Steklac, BMS band director, said the students attending the MMC are “…hard-working, enthusiastic musicians who wholeheartedly earned their spots during the competitive audition process. I am excited for them to have the opportunity to collaborate with musicians from all across the state.”

Courtesy photo. (Left to right) Oscar Carvallo (gr. 11, alto), Nicholas Spruce-Maddox (gr. 11, bass), and Katelyn Hackett (gr. 12, soprano) will sing in the Honors Choirs.

Three students in Chelsea High School’s (CHS) Chamber Choir will also perform at MMC as members of the Honors Choirs: juniors Oscar Carvallo (alto) and Nicholas Spruce-Maddox (bass); and senior Katelyn Hackett (soprano).

Hackett, who also performed in the Honors Choir as a sophomore, is proud to represent the district, and she hopes her participation will make a difference in the attention given to the fine arts program. She credits vocal music director Aaron Pollard for his support. “He’s one of those teachers that you can tell love and care for their job as well as their students,” said Hackett.

She said CSD’s music program has been instrumental in helping her to gain confidence and a community of friends who not only support each other, but also share their love of music. “I’m truly grateful that I’ve been able to work with so many wonderful people that have influenced my life so much,” said Hackett.

About Michigan Music Conference
“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.” (

To maximize health and safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation measures will include (but not be limited to) masks, distancing, and limited participant numbers.

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