Being accepted into one of Montana’s All-State ensembles is one of the highest honors a high school musician can receive.
Auditions take place in spring, when students send in recordings of their playing to be evaluated. At the start of the school year, they are notified of their achievement.
This year the All-State Music Festival took place in Great Falls from October 19th to the 21st.
Although Sentinel does not have a fine arts reputation, it was well-represented in band, orchestra, and choir.
All-State Band members were Ryan Sanders on alto saxophone, Alec Hope on trumpet, Hunter Line on trombone, and Cory Emlen and Zoë Beck on clarinet.
The band was directed by Colonel Timothy J. Holtan, an accomplished military conductor. They performed six songs, including “The Free Lance March” by John Philip Sousa and “Italian Rhapsody” by Julie Giroux, a favorite of retired band teacher Gary Gillett.
Under the direction of Dr. William LaRue Jones, a renowned orchestra conductor, the 2016 All-State Orchestra performed “Poet and Peasant Overture” by Franz von Suppé, “Tribal Dance of the Yao” by Mao Yuen, and the masterful finale to Antonín Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony.
Magnolia Chinn, Jaden Nielsen, Ashley Smith, and Claire Peterson made the ensemble on violin, Jackson Olsen and Léa Tonnerre performed on viola, and Kincaid MacDonald and Oliver Chinn represented Sentinel’s cellos.
The choir benefited from eight of Sentinel’s own: Emma O’Connor, Lily Johnson, Morgan Chambers, Andrew McFarland, Cailin Pinoon, Jonathan Sullivan, Kelsey Crittenden, and Stephen Clement.
Dr. Nicole Lamartine worked with the group on no less than seven songs, covering an impressive range of styles and genres. “Come Sweet Death” by J. S. Bach and “Mata del Anima Sola” by Antonio Estéves were included in the program.
All groups arrived at Great Falls High on the night of Oct. 19, 2016, and auditioned for seats.
Ryan Sanders earned first chair, or principal, within the alto saxophones. The next two days were spent in rehearsal––seven hours each day.
On Thursday night, students were treated to a concert by the Kenny Endo Taiko Drum Ensemble.
Friday night, the groups presented the 2016 MHSA All-State Gala Concert to a packed civic center. All three ensembles performed extremely well.
The All-State Music Festival is not just two days of hard work. It is a chance to “[be] immersed in great band literature and [to be] around fantastic musicians from all around the state” says Nathalie Wagler, from Billings West. The “sense of community with other band kids” (Sarah Charpentier, Billings Skyview) makes the experience all the more fun.