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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

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(she/her) Hannah is a sophomore, and this is her first year of being on staff. Hannah is a FOJ Intern on staff this year and she likes competing in triathlons.

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Process for All-State

With All-State steadily approaching, West High orchestra director Jonathan Welch implements a new play-in process as students prepare for auditions.
Process+for+All-State
Anna Song

With the IHSMA (Iowa High School Music) All-State Festival auditions steadily approaching on Oct. 21, West High orchestra students have been preparing to audition for a spot in the 77th All-State Festival held on November 16-18.

Jonathan Welch, the director of the West High Orchestra, explains that the orchestra program at West is one of the biggest in the state and how it’s a very strong program at West. However, this can sometimes be an obstacle for students. 

“So IHSMA has rules that were put in place like a long time ago to prevent certain bigger programs from taking all the spots from other folks,” Welch said. “And we have had this with band, orchestra and choir where we meet the limit of students that you can send to audition for all-state and each school is limited to 30 band, 30 orchestra, and 28 choral folks that can go to audition.”

To solve this dilemma, Welch has instituted a new play-in process this year since so many students wanted to audition this year. This process has been used in the past when similar issues occurred. 

It was a very hard decision, but I worked it down to what I thought a good amount of instruments from each section would be,” Welch said. “There are a couple of folks that I said I want to hear you audition again, and I want to see them develop and I want to see them go through that.

— Jonathan Welch, West High orchestra director

Across the entire state, 40 first violins, 40 second violins, 30 violas, 30 cellos, and 20 string basses are selected. This year West orchestras will be sending 18 violins, four violas, six cellos, and two basses to audition.

Orchestra students are required to prepare all major scales in three octaves, a solo piece of their choice, and excerpts of the All-State piece selections. West orchestra students have been hard at work practicing their audition materials. 

“I definitely started practicing my All-State excerpts and scales and my solo. I learned the excerpts back in July because I wanted to be really prepared,” said Taelim Yoon ’26.

I definitely started practicing my All-State excerpts and scales and my solo. I learned the excerpts back in July because I wanted to be really prepared,

— Taelim Yoon '26

Yoon will be auditioning for her second time and is also one of the six students who will be contending for a play-in spot. 

“Since I did it last year, I’m a little less nervous since I know how the process works,” said Yoon. “And I think it helped me learn what to practice and to focus on better, rather than I did last year.”

Yuning Shao ’24, the only auditionee from West High orchestras who has been accepted into All-State for the past three years, feels confident this year.

“I’m feeling pretty confident about the All-State auditions this year especially because of the easier excerpts and knowing how the whole process works,” Shao said.

This year, 88 students from West High’s orchestras, bands, and choirs will travel to Washington High School for auditions Oct. 21.

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About the Contributors
Mrudani Ramkumar
Mrudani Ramkumar, Print News Editor
(she/her) Mrudani Ramkumar is a junior at West High and this is her second year on staff. Mrudani's the News Editor for the print edition. Outside the newsroom, she's part of the tennis team and plays the violin. In her free time, she likes to read and spend time with her friends.
Anna Song
Anna Song, Print Assistant Design Editor
(she/her) Anna Song is a junior at West High School and is excited for her second year on the West Side Story staff. This year she will be the assistant design editor on print staff. Outside the newsroom, she can be found either playing the violin, listening to music, browsing Pinterest, napping or eating.
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