KO students participate in the first in-person All-State music festival since COVID-19


“There’s just something that is so infectious about being in a space with a lot of people who are really motivated to do something really well,” senior Nate Welsh said. This year, Nate was one of three KO students who had the privilege of participating in the Connecticut All-State Music Festival on Saturday, April 2, at the Hartford Convention Center.

All three KO students participated in the festival as singers. Nate, as well as junior Johnny Kung were placed into the Mixed Choir, which was coeducational and featured a ‘mix’ of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices. Junior Alice McClure was placed into the treble Choir, which was all female and featured predominantly soprano and alto voices.

“Last year, All-State was an online experience,” Johnny explained. “Basically, we had to submit a recording of our parts…This year, however, was in person, which was very different from last year.”

To be eligible to audition for All-State Choir, Nate, Johnny, and Alice were first accepted into the Northern Region Honor Choir. Unfortunately, this year’s Regional performances were canceled due to COVID-19. Since they performed in the All-State concert, they are now eligible to audition for the National Honor Choir, which is one of the most prestigious High School choirs in the country.

Johnny spoke about one of his favorite songs, “Twa Tanbou,” that he was able to perform with the Mixed Choir. “It tells the story of three drums and how they had to come together and overcome their conflict in order to produce wonderful music,” he explained. “It tells the story of being united, and I think that is very applicable to today’s world.” Johnny also enjoyed performing the song for technical reasons. “The song itself was very fun to perform. It’s very upbeat and it’s very fast, and it has a lot of rhythm which was very fun to perform as a choir.”

Something that Nate really enjoyed was working with his conductor, who already had interesting connections within the KO community. “Our conductor was Dr. Scheibe, and one really cool thing about Dr. Scheibe was that he was actually Mr. Mitchell’s teacher in College,” he said. “He was a really infectious person who made a genuine, sincere commitment to creating great music with us in a very small amount of time.”

Not only were the pieces selected for this year’s concert musically demanding, but students were also only given a small amount of time to rehearse as a full choir. Although the students were given access to the music ahead of time, they were only given two and a half days to rehearse with their conductors as well as with the rest of their group.

A typical day consisted of a six-hour rehearsal, with an hour break in the middle for students to eat lunch. Students who did not live in the Hartford area were given the option to stay in a hotel located next to the Convention Center. There were also opportunities to participate in group activities such as a movie night or viewing a guest performer, which was set up by the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA).

“All-State was a really wonderful experience for me, and I definitely recommend it for people who like music,” Johnny said. “You could be in the band, orchestra, or choir, and it would be a really great experience for you.” Nate also sang the praises of All-State. “[Music] can be a really great tool for just getting people together, and forcing them to literally hear each other,” he added.

We are so grateful to Director of Choral Music Steve Mitchell, Head of the Creative Arts Department Todd Millen, and everyone else who made it possible for KO students to be part of this wonderfully enriching experience. We wish these KO students the best of luck with their Nationals auditions, and encourage any aspiring KO musicians to audition for the Northern Region Music Festival next year!