Three Apex High School students have been accepted into the prestigious All-State North Carolina Honors Orchestra and are performing in Winston-Salem from Nov. 6-8. Senior Lesley Chao on percussion, senior Kirk Peterson on trombone, and senior Samuel Weaver on bassoon have all undergone a rigorous process to be selected by the North Carolina Music Editors Association (NCMEA). The NCMEA is one of the fifty state affiliates for the National Association for Music Education.
Being eligible for All-State is more complicated than it sounds. Students are only eligible for All-State if they first try out for an entirely different orchestral event in their division. In North Carolina, there are two divisions, the east and west. Apex falls under the eastern side, and therefore, its students try out at Eastern Regionals mid-January. Only then can they try out for All-State nearly half a year later. Students practice for months to prepare for the audition. Strings/Orchestra teacher Todd Miller was particularly proud of the three students that made it to the NCMEA convention. “These are the top orchestra students in the state,” said Miller in response to how he felt about the event. “It is an outstanding achievement.”
Typically no more than five students per school pass the All-State audition each year. Once auditions are over, all the selected students from Eastern Carolina and all the selected students from Western Carolina meet at the one of three places to kick off the convention. Orchestra students will go to the Stevens Center this year. Other groups are scheduled for either the Benton Convention Center, Embassy Suites, or the Marriott.
Once all the student performers have arrived, they immediately start an intense two-and-a-half day rehearsal that pays off on Sunday afternoon when they perform. Every year there is a high profile guest conductor to lead the orchestra. 2015’s conductor is Jeffrey Grogan, a highly acclaimed professional that holds the following positions: Conductor/Artistic Director of the Greater Newark Youth Orchestras, Conductor/Artistic Director of the Interschool Orchestras of New York, and Conductor/Artistic Director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony.
The NCMEA is not entirely compiled of orchestra ensembles. Elementary, middle, and high school choir meet at the conference in addition to the young musicians. Band and Jazz educational groups are also part of the convention. The conference offers a special symposium for those students interested in pursuing an education in music beyond high school. Over one thousand people will be attending the conference besides the student performers. Musical educators will be in attendance, and many college/university musical departments will be available for any inquires on their specific program. Attendees will also be treated to a music industry trade show with over one hundred vendors. Music publishers and nationally known instrument companies, as well as specific vendors from North Carolina, will also be going to the NCEMA.
Congratulations to Apex High School’s All-State students!