Nine musicians selected for All-state

POSTED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2013 12:15 AM

By Brielle Schaeffer | Jackson Hole News and Guide

The Jackson Hole High School music department will send a record number of students to the Wyoming All-State Band, Orchestra and Choir Clinic in January.

Nine Jackson musicians will attend the three-day rehearsal clinics in Laramie that culminate in a concert.

“These are the best kids in the state,” orchestra director Vince Gutwein said.

From the orchestra, judges picked seniors Winston Scofield (cello), Kenny Stone (violin) and Marena Salerno Collins (viola), junior Emily Johnson (violin) and sophomore Nicole Collins (cello).

In the choir juniors Melissa Elliott (alto) and Gabriella Castro (soprano 2) and sophomore Makina Waatti (soprano 2) will attend.

Freshman trombonist Elizabeth Chambers made the cut for the band.

Gutwein, choir director Jens Gade and band teacher Pete Closson heard the news about their stellar musicians Dec. 2.

The students were selected after an exacting audition process in the fall in which they had to record themselves performing scales, sight reading and playing a prepared piece.

“The judges listened to each recording and chose the best performances by number,” Gutwein said. “They never know who the kids are. It’s a completely random process.”

The audition material is challenging, Gade said. Students rehearsed before and after school and during lunch to prepare for tryouts.

“They put in many hours of practice to get to this level, to make this happen,” Gutwein said.

Gade said the audition process is good for the kids.

“It really makes the students critique their own voice,” he said, “and realistically focus on specific aspects of their own performance that they should work on to help themselves improve.”

This is the first year multiple choir students were selected for All-State and the first trip for these three.

Gade got help from private voice instructor Nicole Madison from the Singing in the Schools program run by Laura Huckin and the Cathedral Voices Chamber Choir to coach kids through auditions.

Scofield, Johnson and Salerno Collins have been selected to All-State orchestra for three consecutive years. Principal violinist Stone and Collins will be attending for the first time.

Being selected for All-State is a prestigious honor, Closson said. This is the second consecutive year the Jackson Hole High School Band will be represented.

“Elizabeth is an exceptionally bright and talented young lady,” Closson said. “It’s especially impressive that she was selected for All-State as a freshman.”

More than 450 of Wyoming’s best high school music students will meet Jan. 19-21 in Laramie for the Wyoming All-State Band, Orchestra and Choir clinics at Laramie High School.

The All-State Clinic is held in conjunction with the Wyoming Music Educators Association State Conference and is sponsored by that organization and the Wyoming High School Activities Association.

After days of rehearsals, the students will perform at a gala concert Jan. 21. Dr. Patrick Patton, retired choral director of Casper College, will conduct the All-State Choir. Frank Tracz, director of bands at Kansas State University, will lead the All-State Band, and James Pryzgocki, orchestra director at the University of Wyoming, will conduct the orchestra.