Huntington High School’s musicians and vocalists made a statement last weekend at the New York State School Music Association conference in Rochester. The group of talented teenagers turned in spectacular performances and polished the district’s reputation for sensational performing arts.
Kyle Perea (double bass) and Grace Wildermuth (double bass) performed with the All-State string orchestra. Eliana Ng (flute), Nathan Musso (trumpet) and Michael Reed (trumpet) played with the All-State wind ensemble. Katherine Eichenberger (alto 2), Keenan Lyons (tenor 1), Abigail Semelsberger (soprano 1) and Chloe Buffone (soprano 1) sang with the All-State mixed chorus.
All-State vocalists included (from top left) Keenan Lyons, Katherine Eichenberger, Chloe Buffone and Abby Semelsberger.
The Huntington performers were at the top of their respective game in Rochester. “I feel extremely honored to have been selected to play in the All-State wind ensemble,” Mr. Reed said. “The caliber of talent was out of this world and the performance we put on was nothing short of world class.”
With nine All-State participants, Huntington UFSD is nearly in a class by itself, but none of the performers took the honor for granted.
“All-State was the experience of a lifetime,” Ms. Semelsberger said. “Having the chance to go a second time with my friends was so incredible and I learned so much. I am so grateful to the Huntington UFSD music department for all the opportunities it affords to students.”
Huntington’s All-State contingent performed in the fabled Eastman Theatre on the University of Rochester’s campus.
“Having the opportunity to be involved in the All-State mixed chorus was incredible,” Mr. Lyons said. “Just in one weekend, I made so many new connections. Getting to work with Dr. Jerry Blackstone and perform with the state’s top vocalists was fulfilling. Our performance was not only well-received, but it sent a very powerful message. I will never forget this amazing experience.”
The selection process began last spring when thousands of sophomores and juniors auditioned at nearly four dozen sites spread across 15 regional geographic areas and continued into the summer with an analysis of application and performance materials.
“All-State was an incredible experience,” Ms. Eichenberger said. “During free time, I met and got to know many of the other All-State musicians from various parts of New York. The weekend culminated in a concert at the Eastman Theatre. I was able to grow as a musician and have an amazing time doing so.”
The All-State festival includes only the very top musicians from across the entire state. Participation requires a perfect or near perfect score on a Level VI NYSSMA solo. Judges compile a proficiency list of competing students at each NYSSMA festival around the state each spring. The top students on the proficiency list are then invited to attend the state conference. The competition is so intense that some students with perfect scores are not selected.
“All-State was an incredible and unique experience for me,” Ms. Buffone said. “I had the opportunity to sing alongside some of the best musicians in the state and I learned so much from both conductor Dr. Jerry Blackstone and my fellow singers. The gorgeous and passionate music we performed truly touched me and I will never forget this amazing experience.”
Huntington’s All-State alternates included Joshua Avidor (tenor 1), Emerson Forbes (snare drum), Eliana Ng (piccolo) and Nicholas Danseglio (flute).
“All-State was such an amazing experience,” Ms. Wildermuth said. “Our conductor was fantastic and the music was challenging. It was so cool to be surrounded by so many talented musicians that feel the same way about music that I do. You could really feel the energy in the rehearsal room. I had so much fun.”
The nine musicians and vocalists found plenty to appreciate during their time in Rochester. “I loved the experience even more going through it a second time,” Mr. Perea said. “I even had the privilege of conducting the group I was a member of during rehearsal. This is what makes All-State such a different experience from the other New York State School Music Assn. programs.”
None of the All-State musicians will ever forget their time spent at the state conference in Rochester.
“All-State was an all-around incredible experience,” Mr. Musso said. “It was very exciting to see hundreds of excellent musicians from all across the state and in the span of a weekend, put on an amazing performance. It was an honor to be able to perform in this group and learn from the other players on how to improve my own personal musicianship. These four days in Rochester were the high point in my high school career.”
When the nine musicians and vocalists returned to their hometown from Upstate New York, they were able to reflect on the experience.
“I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to participate in All-State this year,” Ms. Ng said. “I found it both challenging and rewarding.”