Thirteen Juneau-Douglas High School students have been selected for the All-State Music Festival on Nov. 18 to 20 in Anchorage.
Ren DeCherney and Megan Bush made the all-state orchestra's first violin section, and Taylor Hubbard, Kelsey Preecs and Ann Robertson will be second violins. Abe Levy, who will be a featured piano soloist with the Juneau Symphony in January, made the all-state orchestra as a bass player.
The all-state band will feature Juneau's Anja Akstin on the tuba and Kyle Savikko on the baritone saxophone. Juneau's Kristina Paulick is an alternate for the French horn section, and Chris Davin is an alternate for the baritone horn section.
Juneau will have three singers in the mixed choir. Lindsay Perkins will sing in the alto I section, Justin McCown is a tenor II and Trevor Nye is a bass I. No Juneau musicians made the treble choir.
Musicians submitted in September an audition tape that required them to play scales, études and an excerpt from a solo work. A panel of judges reviewed the tapes, and the musicians were informed of their selection last month.
Since then, the selected musicians have been practicing the pieces they will perform in the Saturday night concert at West Anchorage High School. The musicians will meet at Chugiak High School for rehearsals on Thursday, Friday and early Saturday. Guest conductors from the Lower 48 will lead the performing groups.
Akstin, a senior, has played the tuba for six years.
"Wow, that's a long time," she reflected. "I feel old."
Music has been a hobby and a way to spend her free time.
"It's relaxing and it's a way to get your energy at the same time," she said, thinking of the physical effort needed to play a tuba. "It's expression. It's something that should be kept alive in the schools. It's physical and mental. It's math. In my case, its P.E. You're always thinking and moving. It's the best of both worlds."
This will be her third time at all-state.
"It's real professional," Akstin said. "They get down to the very core of the music. They take each note and make it matter. They try to make the sections (of instruments) blend more."
Savikko, a junior, said playing a baritone sax, even carrying it around, is a workout as well. He began playing an alto sax in the sixth grade, a time when most JDHS student musicians begin to play an instrument.
"Music in general is a very important part of my life, whether playing it or listening to it," he said. "It's also where I get a lot of my friends, too. It keeps building on itself. My knowledge of music keeps building. It's also, you express yourself."
Savikko will be attending all-state for the first time, but he played in the recent Southeast Honors Music Festival in Haines.
"Being in a group where everybody is just great - it makes you not spend your time on the little things because everybody has their parts practiced. You can spend your attention on making the music beautiful," he said.
Perkins, an alto, has been singing for 11 years, beginning with her family "in the car, around the campfire," she said. A senior, she began singing in the Alaska Youth Choir in the fifth grade and continued with her music studies in high school. This will be her third time at all-state.
"Music is my No. 1 extracurricular," she said. "It's a way for me to de-stress after school. I sing every day after school. It's a challenge for myself - that I can keep pushing myself toward an ultimate goal, which is to be as good as I can be."
Music teacher Ken Guiher said students are more focused on their music after they return from all-state.
With younger students, he said, "I can notice a difference next year with them. No doubt about it. It's really intense. They're there three days. ... You build your leaders from that, I really think, especially if you can get them in their junior year."
Eric Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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