Upcoming events
  • Finals week this week
  • Spain and France trips leave next week
  • Girls soccer meeting- March 6th
The student news source of Iowa City West High

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

Musicians take on All-State

On Nov. 18, 40 selected West musicians and vocalists — of the 1,093 statewide participants — performed at the Hilton Coliseum for the 77th Iowa All-State Music Festival.

42 students from West orchestras, bands and choirs were accepted into All-State ensembles Oct. 21. 25 orchestra students, 10 band students and four choir students traveled to Ames, Iowa for the 77th annual IHSMA All-State Festival Nov. 16-18.

Following their arrival in Ames, students in the band and orchestra ensembles participated in chair placement auditions.

As a first-year All-State participant, violinist Erin Chen ’27 compares her All-State audition experience and orchestra chair placement.

“I do really bad in auditions, so I was really nervous. I got really sweaty right before [the initial audition], and it was just a bad audition in October,” Chen said. “But [for] my chair audition, I couldn’t care more because I [had] already made it in, and I was really calm. I wasn’t nervous at all.”

As opposed to the initial All-State audition process, chair placement auditions were blind, ensuring neither the judges nor the auditionees could see each other. Chen felt that the audition’s blind aspect helped her maintain a calm composure.

“They couldn’t see me; I couldn’t see them. So I just went after it. It was a lot easier for me to do the second audition,” Chen said.

Pullquote Photo

They couldn’t see me; I couldn’t see them. So I just went after it. It was a lot easier for me to do the second audition.

— Erin Chen '27

Yuning Shao ’24 felt optimistic going into her fourth and final year of All-State.

“I was just like ‘It’s my last year, I want to make it the best one. No stress,’” Shao said.

Xion Owens Holst ’24 had a different outlook approaching the festival as a member of the All-State chorus.

“Because I didn’t have any later auditions, basically all the hardship was already over, so it was just fun,” Holst said. “It was kind of like a vacation with some work.”

Each day of the festival was jam-packed with multiple rehearsals. Prior to the concert, each ensemble had rehearsed over 13 hours to prepare their advanced repertoire.

Cellist Ellie Roetlin ’26 acknowledges the considerable dedication required to perform in the All-State orchestra.

“Compared to other honor orchestras, it’s way next level. It’s so much better, but also a lot more work,” Roetlin said. “It was exhausting, and the whole time I was deliriously tired.”

Pullquote Photo

Compared to other honor orchestras, it’s way next level. It’s so much better, but also a lot more work. It was exhausting, and the whole time I was deliriously tired.

— Ellie Roetlin '26

Despite the lengthy rehearsals, Chen believes the effort during rehearsal was worthwhile.

“We performed and sounded great. I loved performing in the Coliseum, which was really cool,” Chen said.

Chen also recognizes the high caliber of the All-State performance.

“[The All-State concert] was definitely the largest-scale performance I’ve ever done,” Chen said. “[It was] way bigger than IJHOF and Kennedy, and we sounded so much better.”

After experiencing the All-State Festival for the first time, Chen expresses feelings of excitement for the upcoming years.

“I’m not excited for the audition, but I’m excited to do All-State again,” Chen said.

Seniors Ava Garcia and Yuning Shao both accomplished the difficult task of being accepted into All-State for all four years of high school. (Photo courtesy of Yuning Shao)

Experiencing the opposite end of the spectrum, Shao reflects on her completion of four years of taking part in the All-State Festival.

“I feel like in college, you don’t have that experience of living with your friends and having eight-hour rehearsals together, so I’m going to miss that,” Shao said.

Similarly, three-year violinist Anjali Lodh ’25 expresses sentimental feelings as she possibly only has one more year left at All-State.

“I feel very sad and reminiscent that it will be my last year in All-State, and I hope to make it a good four years,” Lodh said.

Having only attempted All-State auditions his senior year, Holst conveys appreciation for his first and sole All-State experience.

“My throat hurts, but I’m glad that I decided to do it. I was thinking of just not trying, but I had never done it before and I just decided last-minute, and I’m glad I did,” Holst said.

Holst offers advice to future potential All-State auditionees.

“Do it every year, because you’ll feel bad if you lose the opportunity to be a four-year [All-Stater] even if you don’t necessarily make it every year,” Holst said. “At least you had the chance.”

A recording of the 2023 Iowa All-State Music Festival performance is available on Iowa PBS.

Congratulations to all the musicians who participated in chair auditions Nov. 16. Here are the West musicians who made it into the chamber orchestra as well as some other results. (Anna Song)
Leave a Comment
Donate to West Side Story
$1385
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of West High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase Scholarship Yearbooks, newsroom equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
About the Contributor
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.
Donate to West Side Story
$1385
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All West Side Story Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *