The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Freshman Makes All-State Orchestra, Surpasses Own Expectations

Max Thrun
The violin section of EHS Orchestra performs at the winter concert.

Viola player Amelia Zhang became the first freshman in EHS Orchestra history to earn a seat at the All-State Illinois Music Education Conference on Jan. 25 through 27.

The Illinois Music Education Association opened All-State to freshmen this year, giving Zhang the chance to compete against older, more experienced violists for a spot.

To qualify, Zhang learned two songs, auditioned for the smaller All-District conference and was selected for a principal seat at All-District. She then learned five more songs for the All-State conference in Peoria.

The qualification process began in November, when Zhang recorded and submitted her All-District audition video.

“This audition video determines what seat you will be at the district level,” Zhang said. “When results for seats are released, they will only indicate principal players. Both principal players of each section automatically move on to All-State.”

Zhang said she felt “shocked” to learn she would be one of two principal viola players at the All-District conference. She plays for EHS’s symphonic orchestra – an ensemble that requires an audition – but she had never been a principal player before. Additionally, she thought her All-District audition video had gone poorly because the music was more difficult than in previous years.

“I did practice it on my own quite a bit,” she said. “I just did my best to make sure everything was in tune.”

Zhang said being picked as a principal over her older counterparts was “mostly luck.” Her orchestra teacher, Victoria Voumard, said Zhang is often quiet about her achievements.

“She is an outstanding athlete, musician and academic student, but [she] is also humble,” Mrs. Voumard said. “All of these qualities make her a great role model for other students. I am proud and grateful to have her in my class.”

Junior Jumana Bahrainwala, a violinist in symphonic orchestra, said that on top of an “insane natural talent for the viola,” Zhang “works super hard for all of her accomplishments through her persistent attitude and unwavering dedication.”

Zhang was in Peoria for three long, “exhausting” days. The ensemble had two days of near-constant rehearsal before their concert. She said the practice paid off.

“I ended up playing the music well, and we had a very successful concert,” Zhang said. “When I was performing, I was enjoying the music but also mostly hoping I would do well, especially on the difficult parts.”

About the Contributor
Sami McKenney
Sami McKenney, Opinion Editor
Sami McKenney is a junior, a second-year journalism student, and the opinion editor of The Claw and Tiger Times Online. She is one of two presidents of Creative Arts Club, an officer of NEHS, and a member of NHS, NFHS, French Club, and the Ethics Bowl team. Outside of school, Sami can be found almost every day at Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, either in classes or in rehearsal for its pre-professional company: Tour Dance. Additionally, she is an avid reader, cat lover, and Taylor Swift enthusiast. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism and is extremely grateful to be part of such a supportive program and capable team of staff members with whom to start her journey!