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Wilsonville students were selected for musical honor groups and will perform in February

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Casey Young, from left, Annabelle McClelland and Sam Duran practice during a WHS choir rehearsal. Eight students will be representing the Wilsonville High School music department in February, performing with The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-Northwest, a biennial event, and Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) All-State Band, Choir and Orchestra honor groups.

"It's really validating and I'm really excited because it's nice to be able to work with kids from all over the Northwest that are really dedicated to choir and who are passionate like I am," said WHS junior Averyl Hartje, who was selected as soprano for the All-Northwest mixed choir.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Brennan Martin, left, was selected for the middle school all-state band and Callie Palmer, right, was selected for the middle school all-state choir.Students across Oregon and the Northwest who were selected for the NAfME All-Northwest High School Band, Choir and Orchestra groups will rehearse and perform in Portland Feb. 14-17 under the direction of world-renowned conductors. The OMEA All-State Band, Choir and Orchestra will rehearse and perform in Portland as well, from Feb. 15-17.

"It's a weekend of straight band," Wilsonville High School Band Director Chad Davies said. "It's a great experience for our kids. They grow a lot."

The all-state honor groups also have a middle school level, and a total of 13 students from Inza R. Wood and Meridian Creek middle schools were selected to perform in the honor groups.

"I'm definitely super-excited to get to play with a lot of people that are experienced and are at a high level and get to improve myself and hopefully help others improve too," said Meridian Creek eighth-grader Brennan Martin, who was selected for tenor saxophone for the All-State band.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Alexis Gessler practices the clarinet during a WHS band rehearsal. To qualify for the honor groups, students submitted auditions back in September. Recordings varied depending on the instrument and the type of group students auditioned for. Students were required to record a certain track or excerpt of music written to technically challenge themselves. Auditions for the All-Northwest honor groups were more challenging than state.

Students compete against thousands of other musicians either across the Northwest region, including Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.

And though applying is optional, Davies said he encourages all of his students to audition.

"It's a great thing for students to be a part of," said Davies, adding that when he started teaching at WHS seven years ago, there were maybe two students who auditioned. "The students now are really excited to push themselves and take advantage of the opportunity out there to improve and see music past just our Wilsonville High School building. They get to meet students, make friends in the music world from around the Northwest and see them at different events. It's a much broader view of music than we can give in our classrooms."

During the conference, the music directors representing the schools watch rehearsals and attend different conference sessions as well.

"We bring in professionals that are doing development having to do with teaching strategies, vocal strategies or instrumental strategies, music reading sessions; it's going to be enormous," said Barbara Fontana, band and choir director at Meridian Creek.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Jacob Carmen plays his instrument during WHS band class.Another musical honor students were selected for is the American Choral Directors Association National Conference from Feb. 27 to March 2 in Kansas City, Missouri. Students all over the United States auditioned, and WHS student Lillian Saunders and Meridian Creek seventh-graders Henry Weber and Luci Clemo were selected.

"They're exhaustive auditions. They have to sing scales, etudes (a short musical composition to technically challenge students), a prepared literature song that they're going to perform in concert — singing their part a capella by itself and then they have to sing an art song that they've probably prepared taking private voice lessons," Fontana said, adding that it's a large financial endeavor and time commitment as well.

WHS junior Cami Saunders, who made alto in the All-Northwest treble choir, was also accepted into the National ACDA, but turned it down because she is also participating in the winter theater performance at WHS.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Mia Casselman plays her instrument during WHS band class. "I think it's really cool because the people that they always bring in are really talented and really skilled," Saunders said. "It's a really different environment than other choirs because it's all people who auditioned and worked really hard to get there. So it's like taking a bunch of really passionate and dedicated kids and putting them into a choir for a couple days."

The school's music directors also have to attend the National ACDA conference when their students are chosen.

"What those kids can give back to the program is worth it to me so I'm willing to invest my finances to go and learn and grow and provide that opportunity because it's life changing," Fontana said.

And for students who are hesitant to audition, Martin and Meridian Creek eighth-grader Callie Palmer — a soprano who made the All-State choir — would tell others the experience is worth it.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Rachelle Aguilar, left, and Natalie Young practice during a WHS choir rehearsal."It's definitely a great choice and it never hurts to try," Martin said. "Of course it's going to be normal to be nervous but you can use that to your own advantage in your preparation."

"I think it's good to be able to compare yourself to people who share the same passions as you," Palmer added.

Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281.SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Johnathan Gonzalez plays the trumpet in the WHS band.

All-state winners

Below is a complete list of Wilsonville students who were selected for The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-Northwest and Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) All-State Band, Choir, and Orchestra honor groups:

Wilsonville High School

All-State

Alice Kang, cello

Kullen Whittaker, tenor

All-Northwest

Vincent Nguyen, clarinet

Averyl Hartje, soprano

Annabelle McClelland, alto

William Rasmussen, bass

Camille Saunders, alto

Sophie Villeneuve, alto

Meridian Creek Middle School

All-State

Callie Palmer, soprano

Cole Miller, tenor

Brennen Martin, tenor saxophone

Lyon Blomberg, clarinet

Aditi Bhaskar, violin

Inza R. Wood Middle School

All-State

Ethan Kessler, flute

Mia Combs, violin

Charlotte Parry, viola

Nathan Wilde, violin

Mason Givens, viola

Elijah Givens, bass

Tyler Tadema, cello

Xavier Nelson, bass

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