Students in choir, orchestra, band advance to TPSMEA All State


Isabella Gidi

Students who participated in TPSMEA take a selfie after a long day of competitions.

Lucy Walker, Staff Writer

On Jan. 27, junior Brayden Mi and other band members enjoyed a three-hour drive to All State in a suburban piloted by their director Nicholas Thomas; however, their journey to All State began months before.

Band members received music pieces to practice a month before audition tracks were due. Required pieces included “George Washington’s Bicentennial March,” “In Their Honor” and “El Camino Real.”

“The traveling experience was pretty fun,” junior Brayden Mi said. “Mr. Thomas just drove us in a suburban, and I was in the front seat. It was pretty great because I talked to Mr. Thomas the whole time.”

In addition to qualifying for All State, Mi also ranked first chair. Only one musician can be first chair per instrument; the band ensemble began auditioning for the coveted position the day practice began.

“Getting first chair was pretty much out of luck,” Mi said. “I was going off of about three hours of sleep. I sounded good, though.”

To demonstrate musical flexibility, TPSMEA requires those auditioning to submit both a slow and fast étude, a type of technical exercise. Due to the difficulty of these pieces, Mi found it beneficial to be able to re-record his audition.

“I went through maybe 50 or 60 takes,” Mi said.

Choir Director Scott Bonasso gave audition pieces to choir members before they left for summer break. Dedicated singers devoted hours over the break to prepare for the TPSMEA competitions.

Upon the return to school this August, TPSMEA provided official practice tracks, and Bonasso worked with the whole ensemble on their audition pieces. To practice, Chorale performed audition pieces at their annual Fall concert. These methods, implemented in recent years, have helped more SJS students to qualify each season; this year, over 30 qualified for regional competitions, and 13 performed at All State.

Because Bonasso is Region Director, he is required to serve on the judging board to determine who qualifies for regionals. Competitors send in recordings that the board uses to determine who makes the cut. Those who qualify meet up to practice on St. Agnes campus two weeks before All State in an event called Regional Choir Weekend. This year, All State qualifiers met in Richardson, Texas, where they practiced for ten hours every day for three days.

 “The bus ride there was so fun,” junior Isabella Gidi said. “We sang. It was like the “Pitch-Perfect” bus ride.”

Because more females apply than males, TPSMEA created an all-girls choir, into which every female applicant is automatically placed. Those who qualify for All State are evaluated for a final achievement: the mixed choir. Gidi was placed into both the girls’ and mixed choir.

“I was so excited that I got into state my first year,” Gidi said. “I regret not doing it ever before.”

Gidi has always enjoyed singing but was more compelled to apply this year due to her increased interest in singing.

“This is the first year where I really loved choir,” Gidi said. “I think it was a mix of being in Kantorei and being in a larger choir where we sounded better. I was proud.”