All-State Orchestra and Choir Exceed Expectations

By Amanda Malnik

From Jan. 8 to 11, Oak Hall students, juniors Amelia German and Anya AitSahlia, sophomore Asher Dobrin, and eighth graders Elizabeth Offerle and Jamie Robinson Wilmott, attended the All-State Conference in Tampa, Fla., where they performed in either an orchestra or a chorus. Because the aforementioned students placed so high in their designated talents, this is Oak Hall’s first time celebrating such success. 

German, Dobrin, and Robinson Willmott were the three instrumentalists from Oak Hall that attended the conference. German received the top spot for the Second Flute section, Dobrin received the Principal Chair for the double bass section, Robinson Willmott received the top spot in the Orchestra (First Chair and First Violin) which titled him as Concert Master of the Orchestra. AitSahlia and Offerle attended the conference as vocalists and did not receive any additional rankings once being accepted into All-State. Throughout their All-State process, Jason Stahl and Dr. Dominique Clance, Oak Hall Music teachers, supported the Oak Hall students as well as took part in the conference in the position of Music Directors. “It’s kind of unprecedented; we’ve never had students place in the top like that ever before consistently,” Stahl reflected. “We’re just really pleased and happy with all their’s really an honor,” he continued.   

The process began in September when students in middle and high schools from all across the state auditioned to qualify for All-State. The instrumentalists received prepared pieces ahead of time, with one large excerpt, as well as a practice book. The audition entailed playing the pieces they were given ahead of time as well as a sight-reading test, where they played a piece they had never seen prior to the audition. 

The vocalists’ auditions, however, differed from the instrumentalists. To be selected for the All-State vocal ensemble, students must pass two auditions. “At the first audition, which is local, you must first pass a musical theory test (written and aural theory) and then pass a sight-singing test (you’re given a sheet of music with 5 previously unseen passages on it and have to sing a certain number of measures correctly (both rhythm and melody) in order to go to the next audition),” AitSahlia explained. 

Instrumentalists received the news that they were accepted into the High School Honors Orchestra, for students that deserved an honorable mention, or All-State Orchestra, by Stahl in November. Vocalists, however, discovered they passed their first audition, and then prepared for and attended their second audition in October, where their vocal quality was tested. After the vocalists’ first and second auditions were judged, the students learned if they had been accepted into the All-State Chorus, the highest chorus one can be accepted into. 

Once at All-State, instrumentalists and vocalists rehearsed eight to 10 hours daily for the next few days depending on which day a specific chorus or orchestra performed. AitSahlia found the chorus rehearsals to be the most rewarding and stimulating part of the few days she attended. “Being in a room with 200 other girls who love expressing themselves musically as much as I do under the direction of an inspiring conductor was an experience like no other,” AitSahlia expressed. Dobrin found the experience to be one of the best he’s ever had and an opportunity to meet other high school students that share the same passion as him. 

We are so proud of our talented students’ success at All-State this year and hope for continued success in the years to follow. Congratulations, Eagles!