Each year, students from across Illinois audition to participate in the ILMEA All State District festival. This year, band teacher Mark Dahl was chosen to be a guest conductor for the jazz ensemble. Choir director John Musick was chosen to conduct next year for Jazz Choir at the three-day All-State Conference festival in Peoria. From Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, guest conductors prepared students for a rigorous and competitive journey.
“It’s an honor to be selected by your fellow educators to conduct an all-state ensemble,” Dahl said. “As teachers we spend decades, each day trying to make the right decisions for the right reasons which support our students, programs, school and community. It is always nice to have others who really understand excellence in your field acknowledge your work over time.”
The state is divided into nine regions and at least 2,500 auditioned in District 1, including the City of Chicago and Southwest suburbs, which LT is in, Dahl said. Students spend two days in rehearsals with guest conductors to prepare their final concert.
“While it is highly competitive to get to all-state, I would say that the environment is one of excellence, learning and celebrating the accomplishments of these outstanding students,” Dahl said.
Eleven musicians from LT were selected through auditions for the ILMEA District Festival and competed for the highest score in their district.
“The weekend of the festival itself is going to be a thrill,” Musick said. “Making music with some of the top singers in the state of Illinois will be the reward for a lot of preparation from all of us.”
The weekend conference has thousands of teachers and students attending all from different parts of the state, Musick said. Instrumental musicians have to re-audition and are put into ensembles which are led by conductors.
“Both Mr. Musick and Mr. Dahl have been nothing but encouraging of every student,” band and choir student Alejandra Rodriguez ‘21 said. “Even though I didn’t qualify for state, I’ve been able to truly learn from them. They’re both talented musicians and never fail to push us to be the best we can be.”
The teachers help prepare students for ILMEA auditions by making them practice sight reading, and assigning challenging pieces, Rodriguez said.
“Everyone was truly excited and ready to share their hard work and research with each other while making more inspiring and higher quality music” Musick said. “I think my favorite part over everything though is developing lifelong relationships and helping students grow through music.”