AHS Musicians in District Concert

by | Feb 5, 2014

By John Anderson

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Clockwise from front: Connie Chung, Jeanelle Wheeler, William Erickson, and Matt Bissaillon

The Massachusetts Music Educators’ Association has divided the state into five music districts, and Auburn is in Central. With the exception of Petersham, all cities and towns in Worcester County are part of the Central District along with 3 towns in Hampden County, 3 towns in Norfolk County and 14 communities in Middlesex County.

On November 16, 2013, select students from the high schools in this vast geographical area auditioned for the Senior High Concert which was held on January 18th at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Four Auburn High students made the cut and participated.

Senior Jeanelle Wheeler earned the first Clarinet, fourth chair. She was also invited to audition for the All-State concert. Senior Matt Bissaillon earned third French Horn, second chair. Freshman William Erikson was selected as a Tenor for the choral performance and was part of a Tenor Quartet during the concert.

Sophomore Connie Chung earned first French Horn, first chair. Connie also earned a District spot last year, and she was invited to audition for All-States. Her District audition ranked her first, and her All-State audition ranked her sixth in the Commonwealth.

Connie will play third chair French Horn in the All-State Orchestra. Their performance is scheduled for March 22nd at Symphony Hall in Boston. She said, “It is so beautiful. The sound is so resonant. It’s an honor to play there.”

The January performance was preceded by two grueling 6-hour days of rehearsals, and practice is something these young musicians know well. Connie summed up success in music, “There’s one thing, practice.” She puts in at least an hour a day to perfect her technique. “Practice is my medicine.”

Jeanelle said her experience at Districts is wonderful, especially “being surrounded by so many great musicians.” This allowed them “to get into the emotion of the piece.”

Matt’s favorite instrument is the piano, but he plays the French Horn to participate in concert bands. He chose the horn “because it looked funny.” It is also the most difficult brass instrument to play.

William said the musical directors at Districts were great, and he was surprised how well the high school students sang. Some of the pieces were difficult for adult groups to perform. His advice on the audition process, “If you get rejected, try again.”

All four of these talented performers hope to participate in music during their college years, and it may be a major for Connie who has her eyes on USC and Will who is already looking at Worcester State.

Jeanelle has yet to select a college, but the humanities and social justice will weigh heavily on her decision. Matt is hoping to attend Rice University with a science major.

Whatever the path, each of these fine young students is sure to be successful. In the present they have represented their high school and their community at a remarkable level, and we salute them for their performance.