State KMEA participants recap weekend
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From Thursday, Feb. 23 to Saturday, Feb. 25, 12 student musicians spent long hours rehearsing at the Century II in Wichita for All-State KMEA.
Representing Hays High’s choir program were seniors Madison Crees, Rachelle Lumpkins, Kristen Nease, Eric Rorstrom, Anniston Weber, juniors Micheal Hernandez, Ryan Will and sophomore Cade Swayne. For All-State orchestra there were senior Tanner Callis, Sam Crowley and junior Trinity Callis. Sophomore Spencer Wittkorn was the only student to play in the band portion.
“There are several trials one must pass in order to get into the All-State Orchestra,” senior Tanner Callis said. “So, regardless of chair placement, merely sitting there means that you’ve already won.”
Callis said that unlike the last couple of years when he practiced diligently for at least a couple weeks in advance and had private tutoring, this year he gave himself four days without anyone’s help because he was so caught up with the end of his swimming season.
“My audition there felt solid and I received fifth chair out of 14 kids, which is the best I’ve ever done,” Callis said. “It was quite the self-esteem boost to be able to make it in with minimal practice and no guidance.”
Callis has participated in KMEA for three years.
“I can only speak for the cello section, because we are innately chill people, but the peak enjoyment of state is this notion that arguably the best high school musicians in the state are sitting right next to you,” Callis said. “Though we are only with each other for three days, we are able to ‘efficiently’ maximize our musicianship and skills and just leave it all out on the stage. It’s a group that sounds mighty impressive and that exact same group will never ever meet again in its entirety.”
Callis said the groups’ memories come from how they act and feel.
“We are tired yet willing to work hard,” Callis said. “We are stronger together. It’s kind of a romantic notion when you think about it.”
Callis said he will miss seeing distant friends who he has become used to seeing at only this kind of event.
“I’ll miss the variety of interpretations from those who have studied that music, either previously or simply for that weekend,” Callis said. “I’ll miss the comradery of well-studied peers during both the long of rehearsal and up through the last few lines of that exhilarating finale on stage.”
Callis said he learned to hit the notes you can make and not to stress too much over the ones you can’t.
“That and try your best,” Callis said. “I’d never criticize someone in the HHS orchestra if I knew that they were honestly working their hardest.”
Junior Micheal Hernandez said that he has to work hard on the music and really try to connect to it.
“It meant a lot to me because I could think of people that I would think would have been more deserving than I was,” Hernandez said. “This was my first year going to state. I mostly enjoyed the time I got to spend with my group and others I got to hang out and connect with.”
Hernandez said he learned how to be more confident in myself.
“I’m going to miss the fun times I had there and I wish I could relive every moment,” Hernandez said.
Lumpkins believed the opportunity left her feeling secure in her future.
“State meant a lot to me,” Lumpkins said. “I was nervous about becoming a music educator, since a lot of teachers are leaving and retiring. I was nervous about the economy, but now I’m not nervous.”
The average day for the kids consisted of waking up at around 6:30, getting ready for rehearsal at 8, rehearsing vigorously for about three and a half hours, having a two-hour lunch break, going back to rehearsal for another two hours, getting another few hours for break, eating dinner, and finally, rehearsing until 9:30 in the evening. While rigorous, the students believe it all pays off in the end.
“The people that attend state all have a similar mindset- which is – we love music,” Weber said. “Everyone there has a common goal to produce the best sound as possible. It’s amazing how sitting next to a person for three days and non-stop singing can bond you so much to them.”
All-in-all the students felt at home while at KMEA and enjoyed their time there thoroughly.
“I learned how to stay passionate about music, even if I don’t continue to be heavily involved with it after high school,” Weber said. “Music is everywhere, and it can be used as a bridge to connect people from so many different backgrounds. State reminded me of that. I think that’s part of the reason I’m involved with music in the first place.”