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Mambo! Ladue takes on All-State Orchestra and Band

Post-concert+smiles+abound+for+Ladue+All-State+Orchestra+members.+Senior+Grace+Crockett%2C+sophomore+Anna+Zhong%2C+freshman+Daniel+Diringer%2C+freshman+Becky+Lang%2C+sophomore+Jacob+Sheldon%2C+senior+Evyn+Levy+and+sophomore+Shirley+Pan+pose+Jan.+27.+Not+pictured+is+freshman+and+clarinetist+Pema+Childs%2C+who+played+in+the+All-State+Band.+%22A+funny+part+about+All-State+was+that+we+got+out+of+rehearsal+an+hour+early+once+to+see+a+sunset%2C+but+it+was+cloudy%2C+so+there+was+no+sunset+to+see%2C%22+Sheldon+said.
Post-concert smiles abound for Ladue All-State Orchestra members. Senior Grace Crockett, sophomore Anna Zhong, freshman Daniel Diringer, freshman Becky Lang, sophomore Jacob Sheldon, senior Evyn Levy and sophomore Shirley Pan pose Jan. 27. Not pictured is freshman and clarinetist Pema Childs, who played in the All-State Band.

Post-concert smiles abound for Ladue All-State Orchestra members. Senior Grace Crockett, sophomore Anna Zhong, freshman Daniel Diringer, freshman Becky Lang, sophomore Jacob Sheldon, senior Evyn Levy and sophomore Shirley Pan pose Jan. 27. Not pictured is freshman and clarinetist Pema Childs, who played in the All-State Band. "A funny part about All-State was that we got out of rehearsal an hour early once to see a sunset, but it was cloudy, so there was no sunset to see," Sheldon said.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Sheldon

Photo courtesy of Jacob Sheldon

Post-concert smiles abound for Ladue All-State Orchestra members. Senior Grace Crockett, sophomore Anna Zhong, freshman Daniel Diringer, freshman Becky Lang, sophomore Jacob Sheldon, senior Evyn Levy and sophomore Shirley Pan pose Jan. 27. Not pictured is freshman and clarinetist Pema Childs, who played in the All-State Band. "A funny part about All-State was that we got out of rehearsal an hour early once to see a sunset, but it was cloudy, so there was no sunset to see," Sheldon said.

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Eight Ladue students represented the district in the All-State Orchestra and Band Jan. 24-27. Violinists Grace Crockett (12), Anna Zhong and Shirley Pan (10) and Becky Lang (9), violist Jacob Sheldon (10), cellist Daniel Diringer (9) and clarinetist Evyn Levy (12) played in the All-State Orchestra. Clarinetist Pema Childs (9) played in the All-State Band. These students met other talented musicians from across the state at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo.

To get to Tan-Tar-A, though, they had to get through a grueling audition process. The musicians have only a scale and three brief orchestral excerpts to illustrate their musical brilliance to the judges in a blind audition. It takes endless hours of practice to perfect the audition material by December.

“I worked with [my private instructor] for a couple of months leading up to the audition,” freshman and cellist Daniel Diringer said. “It was a little easier than it would have been otherwise, since I had played it in [the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra].”

Though the December audition for All-State Band also determines seating, the All-State Orchestra musicians must play an additional seating audition only a few hours after reaching Tan-Tar-A Jan. 24. For some, the audition is a simple procedure. For senior Grace Crockett and sophomore Jacob Sheldon, though, this was not the case.

“My instrument was in Mr. Lehde’s car half the time I should have been practicing,” Sheldon said.

Crockett is an All-State veteran, having already played in the orchestra the previous two years. However, her audition situation was arguably worse.

“I planned on [getting to the seating audition] 15 minutes early, but they were running 20 minutes early,” Crockett said. “It was a seven-minute walk to [the audition room]. I got a call from [Parkway Central violinist] April Moon, who said, ‘You have 90 seconds to get here.’ I sprinted all the way there. The judges gave me 30 seconds to rest.”

Then came the actual rehearsal period. The orchestra prepared Leonard Bernstein’s iconic Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and a modern piece commissioned specifically for the ensemble, written by Hollywood composer Chris Thomas, called Joyful Shimmering. The band played more pieces, including the Star Spangled Banner, Claude Smith’s Festival Variations and Alberto Ginastera’s Danza Final.

The All-State ensembles have only about three days to get performance-ready for their Jan. 27 concerts. This requires not only a rigorous rehearsal schedule, but dedicated conductors. This year, Colonel Thomas Palmatier, formerly of the Army Band, conducted the All-State Band. Roger Kalia, assistant conductor of the Pacific Symphony, directed the All-State Orchestra.

“[Kalia] was very dynamic and he knew exactly what to say to us to get the composer’s vision,” Crockett said.

Between rehearsals, the musicians have the freedom to roam the resort at their will. Everyone tries to take advantage of the resort’s entertainment options.

“You could go bowling, swimming, get a hot tub, or you could just hang out with friends,” freshman and clarinetist Pema Childs said. “I got to meet a lot of new people, which was really nice.”

Unexpected things happen at All-State — sometimes during the concert. Childs experienced this firsthand.

“The conductor made us stand up during the performance [of Danza Finale],” Childs said. “He had never told us to stand up before, but at the concert, everyone just started standing up.”

The All-State ensembles offer young musicians an opportunity to practice their craft at a high level with like-minded peers, but they also offer the chance to form or strengthen bonds with fellow musicians. Crockett, who also discovered a doppelgänger at Tan-Tar-A, certainly enjoys this aspect of All-State.

“One of my friends brought a karaoke machine with a light display that we blasted across Tan-Tar-A,” Crockett said. “We almost got kicked out.”

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Mambo! Ladue takes on All-State Orchestra and Band