ILMEA All-State approaching, musicians reflect

Isabel Tuisl, Website/Social Media co-editor

Every year, high schools from all nine districts of the state choose students to participate in the Illinois Music Educators All-State and All-District Festivals (ILMEA). LT band, choir, orchestra, jazz band and vocal jazz ensemble all can audition to take part in these festivals.

For oboist John Quinlan ‘19, the concert he performs allows him to not only play amazing music, but come together with new people from all around the state to be able to produce a wonderful product in less than 48 hours, he said.

“To me [the concert] is less of a competition and more of a gathering of local young musicians who are enthusiastic about sharing their love of the art,” cellist Max Schultz ‘19, said.

ILMEA takes place Jan. 24-26 in Peoria at a local high school or college, band instructor Mark Dahl said. The audition process for the festivals began in October, and over 2,000 students tried out for the District level ensembles.

“This year LT had 48 students selected for district ensembles in the areas of band, choir, orchestra, jazz band and jazz choir,” Dahl said. “These students form district level ensembles with other selected students and spend the day rehearsing and working with the guest conductor, and then the experience culminates with a concert performance that evening.”

The students with the highest scores in each district across Illinois are submitted to a meeting of all district presidents of ILMEA, Dahl said. At this meeting, district representatives choose students from each district to play in all-state ensembles. This is equivalent to an all-state athlete. So the kids with the highest scores from the nine different ILMEA districts are selected to be all-state musicians.  This year there were more than 13,000 students who auditioned across the state and LT has nine student representatives at the all-state level. LT is located in District 1 and more than 80 high schools are in District 1, who participate in auditions on a yearly basis, making it very competitive.

“These students get to attend the state music convention (Illinois Music Educators Conference or IMEC), Dahl said. “Once students are selected, they either have their audition reviewed or they re-audition at the state conference for placement in the all-state or honors level ensembles.  They spend three days in rehearsals, again with a guest conductor and give a final performance at the end of the third day.”

The all-state festival is only open to sophomores and above, but Quinlan has been a part of it every year since he was a sophomore, he said. Schultz has made it to all-state each year since sophomore year as well.

“It’s fun because there’s a lot of new faces, unlike an orchestra that meets regularly,” Schultz said. “Yet, we are still able to create music as a single unit. It really unveils the power music has to bring people together and feel the same emotions despite our potential differences.”