Student musicians strive for state

Adriana Serrano, reporter

After hearing a recording of her seventh grade talent show performance, Rebecca Kural’ 21 was so embarrassed by her undeveloped voice that she debated quitting singing. Instead, refusing to give up her passion for music, Kural practiced for  hours with voice trainers and joined different choir ensembles to strengthen her abilities. As time progressed, Kural can now confidently say that her hard work paid off, even leading her to become one of the qualifiers for ILMEA All-State.

“I had just gotten into my car when I got a text from [Choir instructor] Connie Lyda telling me that I had made [ILMEA All-State],” Kural said. “I saw it and was super excited. I drove home with the biggest smile on my face.”

ILMEA (Illinois Music Education Association) hosts an annual music festival where approximately 1,000 musicians from nine districts in the state come together to compete in either band, chorus, orchestra, jazz band or vocal jazz ensemble. Students between 10th and 12th grade who have been selected for the district-level ensemble are qualified to attend All-State, Orchestra teacher Jan Matthews said.

The auditions for District were held on Oct.1, with the District festival following on Nov. 23 for chorus and Nov. 16 for jazz and ensemble. A total of 12 LT students (four each from choir, band and orchestra) qualified for state this year and are expected to attend the festival in Peoria, IL from Jan. 30 to Feb.1. With the festival approaching, qualifiers such as Kural, along with violinist Reid McKay ’ 20, have been preparing for the past months.

“I get to say I am a state-ranked violist,” McKay said. “I’m excited to spend the weekend playing great music with great people.”

McKay has been playing the piano since age 5 and picked up the viola at age 11. McKay has been practicing his music for two hours a day over the course of a few months and was an expected qualifier for all state orchestra this year, he said.

“It’s about much more than learning the music for the audition,” Matthews said. “A successful audition is the result of many years of training and practice.”

Having made districts the year prior but not qualifying for state, Kural was even more motivated this year to make it to the next level, she said. To prepare, LT Choir instructors Lyda and John Musick held rehearsals two or three times a week, along with practice audition with a clinician that scored them on how well they did, Kural said.

“My goal for All-State is to really appreciate and make the most out of the time,” Kural said. “Sometimes when I have long rehearsals, I get tired and grumpy and forget to look around and appreciate how lucky I am to sing with everyone and reach out through music.”

Kural hopes to apply to vocal performance summer camps and look into colleges with music conservatories. She also hopes to double major with vocal performance. As for Mckay, he hopes to win the LT Concerto Competition and play his viola concerto with the LT orchestra.

“ILMEA is a great opportunity for our students,” Matthews said. “Our district is highly competitive. You have to value the process and enjoy working hard to improve, that is really the true value in music and maybe in everything.”