Five Oak Harbor High School musicians are being recognized for their ability to do something inappropriate.
“None of the audition music is appropriate for their age level,” said high school band teacher Brandon Nelson.
All five students qualified to perform with Washington All-State or All-Northwest by being able to perform college-level music, Nelson said.
And do it well.
Carl Davis and Halle Lemme will take stage with the All-Northwest Mixed and All-Northwest Women’s choirs respectively. Logan Gore will perform with the All-Northwest Band, while Spencer Lien will play with the All-State Symphony Orchestra.
These honor ensembles include students selected from 4,370 high school musicians from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming and Washington, and they will all gather to perform over Presidents Day weekend in Portland, Ore. at a conference hosted by the Northwest division of the Association for Music Education.
“These kids are always phenomenal,” Nelson said of the annual event.
He said many of his students are intimidated by the audition material, which the young musicians had to record themselves playing or singing and then send to judges.
The knowledge that every person performing will be just as motivated as they are is a relief, the Oak Harbor students said.
“Because these people are all mini-professionals, you know they’ll all put effort into rehearsing,” said Lemme, a junior.
She began her musical journey at age 6 with piano lessons. At 8, she started singing lessons so she could move closer to her dream career.
“I always wanted to be a Disney princess,” she said with a laugh. “You’ve got to sing to be a Disney princess.”
Gore, also a junior, had a more serendipitous start to his music career.
“In fifth grade, my cousin gave me a clarinet,” he said.
After a while, he switched to bass clarinet and recently became more interested in music competitions. Lien started with the guitar at 8 years old and moved instruments until his focus lay on the French horn.
Davis said he’s loved singing from a young age.
“My favorite part of elementary school was the 20 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays when we got to go to music class,” the senior said.
Davis and Lemme both said they hope to pursue music-related careers, and they hope singing in the honor choirs will help them in their pursuit of that goal. Lien and Gore said they don’t plan on entering the industry, but they both plan on playing for the rest of their lives.
The students agreed their music teachers were valuable assets in the process to becoming selected. Especially because they helped the musicians create their recordings, and so they were able to ensure the best possible take was the one sent.
“Mr. Nelson has insight on what the music is supposed to sound like,” Lien said. “… He knows what (the judges) are looking for.”