On Thursday, Feb. 24, as most Shawnee Mission East students were in Kansas City preparing for yet another snowstorm, 28 were on their way to Wichita to take part in the 2011 Kansas Music Educator’s Association In-Service Workshop
At the workshop, the best high school musicians in the state of Kansas collaborate to put on a concert after three days of intense rehearsal. SM East is consistently among the top schools in terms of the number of students who make up this exclusive group.
“SM East does well because kids study privately, work hard, and they are motivated by family and teachers to do these type of events,” orchestra teacher Jonathan Lane said. “There is a tradition of doing well and playing well.”
The opportunity to work with the best musicians in the state is an incentive for many students to audition.
“Students that have been in all-district and all-state bands and orchestras before have had a lot of fun meeting other fine players and performing with a high-caliber musical group at these events,” said SM East band director Kim Harrison. “It inspires students to work hard, since they do not want to miss out on this great opportunity to perform excellent literature with other great high school musicians.”
Junior Kristen Shedor, a trombone player, made the all-state band for the first time this year. She had high expectations for the band, and they were exceeded by the end of the first rehearsal.
“Everyone is fully devoted to being there and they’re paying attention to play their very best every moment that they’re there,” Shedor said. “It’s just the best of the best.”
Besides getting to work with talented musicians from across the state, students also get to play top-notch repertoire too advanced to be played in most high school music programs.
“It’s just an awesome feeling knowing that you’re playing the same music that people who get paid thousands upon thousands of dollars are playing,” senior viola player Rebecca Callstrom said.
Clinicians chosen by KSMEA conduct the orchestra, band and choir. Getting to work with well-known and truly great conductors is often one of the things that students remember most from their experience at this event.
“Each clinician makes the experience different, and this year we had a really famous clinician, ” senior John Meyer, a member of the Chamber Choir said. “I think that might have just added more excitement to it.”
Upon arriving to the workshop on Thursday morning, students were immediately thrown into rehearsals. By the time the performances rolled around on Saturday, just a mere two days later, they had gone through a grueling 14 hours of rehearsing.
The groups finally got a chance to relax before performing on Saturday, and as parents made the three-hour drive down to Wichita that morning, many East students decided to play cards and eat pizza in the hotel.
The final performance was the culminating event of the weekend. Parents watched, students showed off what they had rehearsed for hours and for many this was the highlight of the weekend.
As the orchestra played their final note of the “Firebird Suite” by Igor Stravinsky, applause broke out and continued for what seemed like hours.
“It was especially great because we worked so hard the couple days before it, and the actual rehearsal was so tedious that when we actually got to the performance and put it all together and it came out so well,” Callstrom said. “It was just so rewarding.”
While cars packed up and drove out of Wichita after the performance, many reflected on the workshop. Sophomores and juniors, who still have one or two more years of all-state competitions, thought about how to make sure that they found themselves back at the workshop next year.
“After all-state, I know what potential I have and seeing all those people there, I just want to practice harder and get to be better than I was this year,” Shedor said. “ I think I have a goal to make state next year already.”
Many seniors reflected on the great opportunity that all-state brought to them and their journey as a musician.
“It’s just the coolest experience,” Meyer said. “You learn really great music, you get to work with great clinicians, and you get to be around great people.”
Congratulations to the following SM East musicians who participated in the All-State workshop:
Orchestra: Spencer Brown, Rebecca Callstrom, Tyler Cecil, Allie Chesbrough, Jonathan Dawson, Ali Felman, Lauren Gillespie, John Horvath, Addie Hotchkiss, Cory Jennett, Kelly Kuhn, Mimi Rebein, Emma Reno, Sam Rowe, Nathan Simpson, Ingrid Starkey, Lucas Throckmorton, Greg Tracy, Ian Wiseman
Band: Julia Davis, Cole Harrison, Tom Hung, Russell Philpott, Kristen Shedor, Larson Woolwine
Choir: John Meyer, Maddie Sullivan