HHS musicians chosen for performance group

Outstanding musicians from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming have been selected to participate in a 2015 NAfME, the National Association for Music Educators, All-Northwest performing group. The high school bands, orchestras and choirs will meet in Spokane, Wash., Feb. 12-15.

Among those chosen are six Homer High School students:

Miles Catlin, French horn, wind symphony;

Zak Holschen, bass clarinet, wind symphony;

Falcolm Greear, tenor 1, mixed choir;

August Kilcher, tenor 2, mixed choir;

Zach Nelson, alto 2, mixed choir;

Greg Smith, bass 1, mixed choir.

“This is really exciting,” said Amy Johnson, Homer High School’s band director. “From the recollection of (former HHS choir director) Mark Robinson, Homer has not had a student make it into the All Northwest band ensemble since Andrew Vait made it and he’s now 29, so it’s been awhile.”

Students recorded their audition material online. Auditions were screened and ranked at the state level first and then forwarded for All-Northwest screening and selection.

Of more than 5,200 students who auditioned, about 1,000 were chosen. They will meet in Spokane, Wash., Feb. 12-15 to rehearse and perform in concert under the direction of world-renowned conductors, according to a NAfME press released issued Nov. 12.

Two years ago, NAfME created a “small school ensemble,” which means “only people from small schools can audition. It’s meant to provide opportunities for students who can’t necessarily take private lessons,” said Johnson.

She compared it to the large school ensemble’s symphonic band music selected mostly for musicians taking private lessons from someone “or they have a super dedicated band teacher and that’s all they do is work on the All-Northwest materials,” said Johnson.

While Johnson would like to attend the event with her students, her other responsibilities as coach of the school’s drama debate and forensics team may mean she stays in Homer.

The idea to create the small school category is patterned after Washington state, according to Johnson.

“The nice thing is auditions can be practiced in class,” she said. “Each instrument has the same audition materials.”

Among the professional musicians who consider their All-Northwest experience as crucial in their decision to choose music as a career are trumpeters Doc Severinsen and Allen Vizzutti, jazz saxophonist Kenny G and 2008 National Teacher of the Year Andrea Peterson, according to information provided by NAfME.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.