Performing Arts Students Showcase Talents at State Festival

Cassi Reaka, Life Editor

Band, choir and orchestra students participated in a weekend filled with music when they attended the Illinois Music Education Conference hosted by the Illinois Music Education Association.

Each year IMEA hosts district music festivals all over Illinois and then, in January,  “a statewide festival for the top high school musicians in band, choir and orchestra,” according to senior Anna Bruss.

EHS had 12 students who participated in the choir ensemble of the festival: five in the all-state choir and seven in the honors all-state choir.

According to senior Alexandra McCall, students must audition to be a part of an ILMEA ensemble.

“Based on the audition, high school students may be invited to take part in the Illinois music education conference,” McCall said.

McCall was able to participate in such an ensemble with Bel Canto, a small all women choir. She enjoyed being able to perform music with her friends and showcase their hard work.

“Watching it all come together, and watching the audience smile and laugh made us feel so accomplished,” McCall said.

The conductor of the honors chorus, Dr. Jeremy Jones shared some of his wisdom with the members.

“He explained to us that music has many different layers to it,” Bruss said. “There is the part where you learn the notes and dynamics and you figure out the mechanics of the pieces. Knowing the basics then allows you to begin to tell someone else’s story and express emotions to an audience through harmonies and melodies.”

Band and orchestra students also participated in the festival and senior Colleen McCracken earned second flute in the honors all-state orchestra.

Earning second chair had been McCracken’s goal for the year and she was pleased with her placement.

“I figured first chair could go to a flute player from one of the Chicago youth symphony orchestras, but second chair would be from the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra,” McCracken said.

McCracken was proud to represent Southern Illinois at the festival.

“It doesn’t matter if you go to a public school in Southern Illinois or a private performing arts high school in Chicago, it’s about how hard you work,” McCracken said. “I reminded some people that there is more to the state south of central Illinois.”