SHS musicians perform at All-State Festival

Music 2

Seven student musicians represented Southington High School (SHS) at Connecticut’s All-State Musical Festival last weekend.

The students—three sophomores, a junior, and three seniors—practiced and performed in the all-state band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and chorus, with music students from across the state.

Sara Ossias, Director of Bands at SHS, said the three-day festival is “a great opportunity for these students and shows how much dedication they have to their music.”

The event was held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Southington’s students rehearsed for two days before performing in front of their peers, instructors, and families in a concert on Sunday, May 1.

Senior Brett Simms said performing with the all-state chorus and fellow SHS singer Shelby Doerfler was incredibly rewarding. Simms, a bass vocalist, has attended the festival all four years, and said it has taught him “how it feels to be truly passionate about music.”

Simms said the students work “for hours and hours behind the scenes,” practicing for their 30-minute performance, and that the hard work “is always something to be proud of when the concert is over.”

Ossias, who has taught music at SHS for 12-years, said the event is the culmination of “a rigorous audition process.”

The road to the all-state concert begins in November at the Southern Region Festival. Musicians selected in the regional competition are then eligible to audition for all-state.

Matt Schmidt, a senior, has performed the baritone saxophone at the festival two years in a row, and he was the only SHS student to be a part of the jazz ensemble this year. He said that the festival taught him a lot about performing and was a unique experience both years.

“I learned a lot about big band playing,” he said, “including how particularly each note must be considered for the music to sound good.”

The senior, who will be studying music education in college, said he also enjoyed being around other musicians for a whole weekend.

“The most rewarding part was probably being able to connect with a variety of students all around the same age that shared a similar passion for music,” he said.

Four of the SHS participants played in the all-state band this year. Junior Matt McLaughlin, and sophomore Mike Abuweciz played the tuba, while senior Eddie Vitcavage performed the mallets. Sophomore violinist Christina Sack performed in the orchestra for her second year.

“The festival is a dedication the students enjoy taking part in each year,” said Ossias.

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