Three La Plata County students made it to state for orchestra through the 68th annual Colorado All State Orchestra program.
For high school musicians and teachers, going to All State is just as remarkable as making it to state competitions for athletes. Students and teachers traveled to Colorado State University in Fort Collins for the three-day, intense music conference Thursday through Saturday. For both groups, All State is an important growth opportunity, especially for people from rural communities.
“When a student auditions for All State Orchestra, they’re going up against students that have been doing this since they were 3 years old,” said Lech Usinowicz, Bayfield High School orchestra teacher.
Students go through two rounds of auditions within the All State program. First, they must play and record a submission of musical selections to be accepted. At the conference, they audition for a seating assignment in either the Philharmonic Orchestra or the more-advanced Symphony Orchestra.
All State accepted three students from La Plata County. Madison Hening, a violinist from Durango High School, and Summer Hollingsworth, a bassist from Bayfield High School, played in the Philharmonic Orchestra. Casey Reed, from Durango High School, played violin in the Symphony Orchestra.
For Hening, it was an opportunity to work with experienced conductors and high-level players, all doing their best to make meaningful music.
“Going on a road trip with my director was really fun, first of all,” said Hollingsworth, who will also play French horn during All State Band in March. “Just playing with all these amazing musicians was really surreal. I don’t really get opportunities like that very often.”
During the conference, students spent almost 18 hours in rehearsals before performing on Saturday. Meanwhile, teachers and professors could take part in professional development opportunities, like earning graduate credits through CSU.
Opportunities such as these are important for students from rural areas, Usinowicz said. In urban areas, students have more resources, like private lessons, to learn an instrument from a young age.
For Reed, the experience gave him a better understanding of the music world outside of Durango’s bubble.
“Going to a thing like All State is a good experience for anyone, but especially someone from a relatively small town with not a lot of emphasis on music, like Durango,” he wrote in an email.