Early on a Saturday morning, band, orchestra and choir students piled onto buses headed for Carbondale, Illi. and the ILMEA all-district music festival.
According to senior Nathan Greenland, the buses left the high school at 5 a.m. on Nov. 2. Students practiced all day with their respective ensembles, and then performed at a concert that night.
“I was very tired after we finished,” Greenland said, “but getting to play with some of the best high school musicians in southern Illinois was really cool.”
Judges selected students to perform after blind auditions on Columbus Day, freshman Lauren Bruss said. The choir practiced for auditions with choir director Emily Ottwein before the auditions.
“The music was more challenging than anything I’ve learned before,” Bruss said, “so yeah there was a lot of stress involved.”
Junior Paola Arana explained that the auditions involved playing excerpts from musical pieces as well as scales.
“It kind of freaked me out,” she said, “but once it’s over, it’s like a huge weight off your shoulders.”
The orchestra practiced the music for a week before the event, Arana said, but that didn’t prepare her for playing in the full orchestra at all district.
“The first rehearsal we did with the full orchestra definitely left an impact on me,” Arana said. “…Hearing everyone’s parts together was kind of surprising but really cool.”
While Greenland said that working with the band all day was a whirlwind, it also provided some opportunities.
“I got the chance to meet a lot of new people who I wish I could’ve gotten to know better,” Greenland said.
For Bruss, the day was all about the music.
“After stressing so much about qualifying for the festival,” Bruss said, “I finally got to enjoy the day and make some gorgeous music.”
Arana said that her first year of ILMEA met her expectations.
“I had a lot of fun,” she said, “and I know I’ll remember it for a long time.”