Dozens of students from Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School earned All-State Band, Choir or Orchestra honors in November.
The All State Music Festival was held at West High in Anchorage Nov. 17, and Juneau was represented by 30 students, which Alan Young, choir and orchestra director for TMHS, said is a drastic improvement from his high school days less than a decade ago.
“There were a few years when I was one of seven or six people,” said Young, who graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2012. “I think the most we had one year was 12 or 13. The fact we had 30 people go overall is significant and shows growth in skill.
“I’m tremendously proud of all the efforts of the students,” Young said. “The consistency and the work they’ve put into this is outstanding.”
Young said one of the main reasons Juneau’s orchestra students earned high honors is dedication to string instruments that is at odds with statewide trends.
While other districts have reduced the presence of violas and other instruments, they remain part of Juneau’s orchestras.
“We were commended for that,” Young said.
Students earned the honors based on in-person auditions that took place in September.
Juneau-Douglas High School students selected to the All-State Choir were Quinn Gentili, Kyle Farley-Robinson and Kayla Kohlhase; selected to the All-State Orchestra were Lisa Eldridge, Finn Adam, Lila Quigley, Alex Yu, Olivia Gardner, Dugan McNutt, McKenna McNutt; and selected to the All-State band was Jia Jia Maas.
Adam was also selected to the All-Northwest Orchestra, which JDHS choir and orchestra director Richard Moore said is one step above all-state honors.
Thunder Mountain High School students selected to the All-State Mixed Choir were Katelin Kalbaugh, Hannah Aquino, Briannah Letter and Morgan Blackgoat; selected to the All-State Trble Choir were Jennifer Pyeatt, Dorothy Kuterbach; selected to the All-State Band were Lauren Pickard, Reece Bleakley, Maddie Cordle, Sasha Pico, Makenna Lovejoy, Ian Lear, Patrick Jimmerson, Vaughn Gallagher, and Rouel Dela Cruz; and selected to the All-State Orchestra were Noatak Post, Hannah Harvey, Edgar Higgins, and Jin Yue Trousil.
Post, Bleakley, Pickard, Pico and Cordle were All-Northwest selections.
Pickard was also awarded first chair for trumpet and Bleakley was awarded first chair for flute. First chair honors are high praise for the high school musicians.
“Based on the auditions they did in person at the festival they are the best trumpet and flute player in the state,” Young said.
Bleakley, a junior, has been an all-state selection each of the past three years, and Pickard, a senior, has also been a three-time all-state selection. They told The Capital City Weekly they were surprised by the honors.
“When I went in for my live audition, I was not confident at all with how I did,” Bleakley said. “It went well, I guess. I was very relieved. I was hoping that if I didn’t get the first chair one of the other flutes from Thunder Mountain would get it.”
Young said Pickard was initially confused by the news, but also excited.
“It was funny, I got to tell Lauren she was first chair, and she said, ‘What does this mean?’ and I said, ‘It means what you think it means,’ and she said, ‘Wait, what does that mean?’” Young said.
The JDHS and TMHS students will soon be putting their talents on display.
There will be a band, choir and orchestra concert 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at Juneau-Douglas High School Auditorium. The next Thunder Mountain High School choir and orchestra concerts are scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 and Dec. 13
The TMHS band concert is 6 p.m., Dec. 11 featuring the jazz band, and the TMHS Choir/Orchestra concert is 6 p.m. Dec. 13. Both concerts are at Thunder Mountain High School.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.