By Megan Smith | Assistant News Editor
On Feb. 15, four Pearce Band Students performed in the All-State Symphony Orchestra and Band at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio. The students performing were contrabassoonist seniors Josh Cohen, trumpet player Alex Bressler, bass clarinetist Ben Quarles and bassoonist Brennan Moran.
“The experience itself is magical,” Ben said. “Getting to work with people so inspirational and so dedicated to music is an absolute joy, and to play such difficult music in a short amount of time is really fun, too.”
The audition process began in August with the auditions for the Dallas-area All-Region band. When students earn a chair in the All-Region band they may then try out for the All-State band or symphony in February.
Even though the final ensemble is composed of over 100 high schoolers from all over the state, fewer than two percent of those who audition actually make it.
“I’ve made the state band three times, but this is my first time in the symphony orchestra,” Alex said. “It’s a great experience. I learned a lot about music and whether or not I want to pursue it as a career.”
Making it into the All-State band is a long, stressful process that requires a lot of hard work and dedication from anyone hoping to earn a chair in the elite ensemble.
“My practice schedule varies on school days, but I try to practice as often as I can,” Brennan said. “On school days I typically practice for an hour and a half or so, while on the weekends I will sometimes practice for close to five hours.”
This year’s All-State Band performed High Wire, Irish Tune from County Derry, Flourishes and Meditation on a Renaissance Theme, Angels in the Architecture and Blue Shades, all under the direction of University of Southern California director Frank Ticheli.
The Symphony Orchestra performed Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Daphnis and Chloe, Suite No. 2. Both pieces were played under the direction of Michigan State University conductor Kevin Noe.
“I’ve made All-State three times in a row, and each time has been an amazing overall experience,” Josh said. “Each time I get to work with extremely skilled musicians who all share the same passion for making music that I do.”
In addition to performing in the All-State ensemble, all the players missed a few days of school prior to the performance to explore San Antonio, view the TMEA exhibit hall in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, and rehearse for the performance.
“We only had two whole days of rehearsals, broken up in two- or three-hour increments totaling to around seven hours of rehearsing each day,” Brennan said. “Including the sectional and the rehearsal on the morning of the concert, we prepared for roughly 20 hours before our performance.”