Acceptance into the Iowa All-State Music Festival is one of the most challenging goals for high school musicians to achieve. Each year, many Ames High students rise to the challenge as they embark on the journey to earn All-Stater status. The end goal is to make it to the Festival, a compilation of Iowa’s top high school band, orchestra, and chorus musicians. Yet, few make it. According to the Iowa High School Music Association, in 2019, 4,586 students auditioned, representing 286 of the state’s high schools. Out of that, 601 students were accepted into the All-State Chorus, 278 into the All-State Band, and 226 into the All-State Orchestra. At AHS, approximately 12 percent of the students in band, orchestra or chorus audition, and even fewer make it to the Festival.
A tedious preparation process requires all musicians to practice both in and out of school, starting as early as summer. Optional clinics, workshops, and camps help musicians effectively learn their music for the late-October audition. On top of their rigorous rehearsal schedule, students are challenged to keep up with academic, athletic, and personal obligations. Why do they do it? The consistent answer is a passion for music.
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” said senior clarinet player, Sofiya Palasyuk.
This same sentiment was echoed by other AHS students auditioning, including Yunjae (Daniel) Lee, violin; Sofiya Palasyuk, clarinet; Cassidy Peterson, alto; Madelyn Timmermans, trumpet; and Adam Wolf, tenor. Together, they have a combined eight years of experience performing at the Festival. Performing in the Festival each year of high school, also known as a four-time All-Stater, is one of the highest honors. Lee hopes to make 2020 his fourth appearance in the All-State Orchestra. …