MHS Musicians Partake in 2020 Virtual All-State

Five Mamaroneck musicians qualify for the annual All-State Orchestra this year which will take place online for the first time.

Rebecca Herzberg, Formatting Managing Editor

 This year, five musicians from MHS were selected to perform in the 2020 New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State Performing Ensembles. Student-musicians across the state can apply for the All-State conference by submitting their NYSSMA festival audition scores. As a result of Covid-19, only seniors were eligible for the 2020 All-State conference since the NYSSMA festival was canceled this past spring. To be recommended for All-State consideration, students must score a 98-100 on a level VI piece, the highest level of difficulty. Out of the 6,500 students who prepared for All-State evaluations, there were only 900 students accepted into the 2020 All-State music groups. Among these talented musicians are MHS seniors Greg Gold (clarinet), Gabi Howse (violin), Kay McIlhenny (violin), Mackenzie Minguillo (voice), and Abby Tucker (violin & viola). 

Generally, accepted musicians play in the winter concert at the Eastman School of Music, located in Rochester, NY. McIlhenny, who attended the 2019 All-State Winter Conference, describes it as a fun “overnight experience and [a chance] to meet new people.” Gold, who also attended last year’s concert, reflects that there are “not many cooler things than playing concerts in a full orchestra.” 

However, things will look quite different this year as a result of Covid-19. The 2020 All-State Concert will be completely virtual. While official instructions have yet to be released, MHS seniors all agree that they will likely need to attend a few Zoom rehearsals and then send in recordings of their parts. The parts will then be layered together to produce a cohesive piece.

The virtual format presents a clear challenge for practicing simultaneously as a group. “It’s practically impossible for an ensemble to all play together virtually,” explains Tucker. “Someone’s WiFi is always lagging.” The final product is also a cause for concern. “Unlike pros, we don’t really have professional recording equipment,” explains Gold. “ I’m not sure how they plan to get a concert to work nicely.” Combining all of the musicians’ recordings will undoubtedly be difficult. 

However, the virtual presentation for this year’s concert also has some benefits. Musicians can now “watch the concert on top of performing in it,” Tucker says. It is an opportunity musicians do not often receive. Another positive aspect of the digital medium is that every single player is held accountable since they are required to send in a recording of themselves. McIlhenny hopes that the virtual format will “lead to more practicing and maybe even a better quality of music.” Howse views  “a virtual concert [as] a pretty low-pressure situation.” She feels that the virtual presentation will ultimately cause less stress. 

Despite the new challenges, MHS seniors continue to remain optimistic and appreciative of the opportunity presented to them. “I feel so honored to have been selected to sing with the best singers in the state,” Minguillo says. “I’m really excited, and (…) I just want to enjoy what I’ve accomplished.”

MHS wishes the best of luck to these seniors and congratulations on all that they have already accomplished!