Having not just one or two, but four musicians from Bayfield High School qualify for state music festivals is one thing.
Having them qualify in all three disciplines: choir, band, and for the first time - symphony - is a new level of musicianship at a small school.
Three seniors, Collin Jackson, Zenn Roberts and Jack Ferguson, and one junior, Reed Merchant, recently performed at the Colorado All State Band, Choir and Orchestra.
Jackson, a clarinet player, was in the Colorado All-State Band 2018 on April 5-7 at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Merchant and Ferguson both played upright bass in the Colorado All State Orchestra Feb. 7-9 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The two performed in the philharmonic orchestra, and Merchant said he's preparing to audition for next year's uber-competitive symphony orchestra.
Rounding out this year's state quartet is Roberts, a tenor who performed in the Colorado All State Mixed Choir Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 in Denver.
Students audition for the state groups in the fall, either performing at live auditions in Cortez and Durango for band and choir, or sending in recordings for orchestra.
If selected, the musicians then get their music and start learning their parts over the winter.
The first order of business at the state events is the second audition, to see if they've learned their parts. If not, they can pack their bags and head back home.
Roberts said he was nervous he wouldn't get a particularly challenging piece of German music right.
"It was atrocious!" he said of the piece, noting that the notes were high and fast. When he arrived and starting talking with the other tenors, they agreed the piece was tough. He said singing eight-part and 12-part harmonies in the mixed choir was incredibly challenging, yet also satisfying.
Playing with the philharmonic was incredible, Merchant said, but he was even more excited about hearing the symphony players perform.
"That showed where I should be," he said. "It's cool to see what we're capable of."
Jackson said performing with top-notch students is challenging, but inspiring, as well
"I was just amazed how everybody already is playing at a super-advanced level," he said, noting the conductor was working on minuscule aspects of their work to get their performance ready for the festival finale.
Derek Smith, music director at Bayfield, said all-state performers are his best musicians who practice a lot, but they also take lessons outside of his classroom.
"They're self-motivated," he said. "They have to want it."
He estimates Jackson was one of 30 clarinetists selected from about 200 in Colorado, while Roberts joined about 120 tenors in the three choirs - men's, women's and mixed - out of about 500 to 600 who try out.
Retired Bayfield Middle School band teacher John Patton deserves credit for helping Jackson and Roberts in their musical education, while Lech Usiniwicz and the Be Frank Foundation, which oversees Bayfield's youth orchestra programs, have trained Ferguson and Merchant well, Smith noted.
Smith is proud he's had 12 years of students qualifying for state choir and band, and now that Be Frank's first groups of orchestra students are in high school, he predicts more of them will qualify for state in the future, as well.