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Eight Byron High School musicians were picked for this year’s ILMEA All-State Festival, including Amanda Camling, Hope Cornett, Nathaniel Dyck, Alaina Haas, Kaci McKnight, Isaac Mondello, and Tyler Mrozek.

Eight Byron Music Students were selected to participate in the 2021 Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) All-State Festival. The dates of the festival are currently being planned. ILMEA sponsors District and All-State competitions for the State of Illinois. Illinois is divided into nine districts. Byron is located in District 8, which includes the Western edge of the North-West Chicago suburbs, to the Mississippi River, and from the Wisconsin border down to I-88.

The process begins when students prepare an audition for the District Festival. Students in band prepare an etude, scales and they will sight read at the audition. Students in choir prepare 2 pieces of music and also have to perform scales and sight singing at the audition. The students audition for a judge, by themselves, and are scored out of 100 points.

From these scores the ensemble is selected. Top scores from each section are selected for the District ensembles, approximately 2000 students audition for the district band, orchestra, and choir ensembles. This year’s process looked a bit different. The student’s audition was in virtual format. The students prepared their material and had to video record themselves playing it and then submit it to the District to be judged.

Students worked hard and did this preparation all with knowing the District event was not going to be held in person. Each District Festival was a virtual session of college and professional directors leading master classes and workshops.

After the District Festival the student scores are then looked at again. In band and orchestra top players are chosen from each instrument. Once down at state the instruments will need to audition again for their place in the All-State or the Honors All-State Band or Orchestra.

In choir the top eight scores from each voice part are chosen to attend the All-State festival. The highest four scores are placed in the Honors All State ensemble and the next four scores are placed in the All-State ensemble. The All-State music experience is unlike any other musical experience these students will have.

Top musicians from across Illinois come together and prepare a concert of challenging music in less than three days. It will be an experience these kids will never forget. We are hoping the All State Festival is able to be held, in May, in person or virtually.

The eight Byron musicians who qualified for the All-State Ensembles this year are:

Amanda Camling is a senior who is in Chamber Choir. Her parents are Joni and Nathan Camling. Amanda made it into the All-State ensemble as an Alto 2. Amanda’s future plans are to play college basketball and major in psychology. She has been involved in softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and choir while at Byron High School.

Amanda’s thoughts on making All-State Choir: “I am extremely excited about making All-State. It truly is a wonderful accomplishment that I will remember for the rest of my life.” Her favorite memory from choir would be all the madrigal performances. She loved getting dressed up and singing the songs to those in the audience.

Hope Cornett is a senior who was selected to the Honors All State ensemble as a Soprano 2. Hope is in Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Chamber Choir. Her parents are Tisha and David Cornett. She plans to go to college for music education. In high school she is very active in Theater, Speech, Band, and Choir. Hope was at All State last year in the Future Music Educators Seminar.

“I think that making All-State is really cool, especially because I’ve gone for FMES,” she said. “When I went last year, I got to sit in an All State rehearsals. This year, I get to participate in them, which is a huge honor!” Hope’s favorite memory of choir is singing at the Coronado Theater freshman year, recording for WTVO Sounds of the Holidays production. “I felt so honored to be able to sing with such a talented group of people.”

Nathaniel Dyck is a senior who is in Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Jazz Band. Nate’s parents are Bryan and Raina Dyck. Last year Nate made it into the All-State Orchestra on French Horn. This is his second year selected to an All-State Ensemble. Nate is planning on studying criminal justice when he attends college. He keeps himself busy with band, jazz band, and basketball. His thoughts on making All-State “I’m beyond thrilled I made it for the second year in a row. Last year when I made All-State it was a blast and was the best experience of my life, and hopefully I’ll get to do that again this year if COVID lets up.” His favorite memory from band is in 8th grade playing “Light it Up”, a pep rally song, so loud it shattered the basketball backboard.

Alaina Haas is a sophomore who is in Symphonic Band. Alaina’s parents are Natalie and Nate Haas. Alaina was selected to the All-State Ensemble on the French horn. She would like to go to college to become an elementary school teacher. Alaina has been involved in Volleyball and Speech, Cross Country, and Band. Her thoughts on making All-State are: “When I first heard I had made it, I did not believe it and it did not actually sink in that I had made it until a few days later. I was not expecting to make it, especially considering I’m only a sophomore, but I was very excited and proud of myself.” One of Alaina’s favorite memory from band was going to ISU for their band day and getting to march and play with the college band. Another favorite memory was playing at the State football game during her freshman year. “Even though it was freezing, and rainy, and our team lost, it was still a cool experience and I loved marching on the big college field.”

Kaci McKnight is a junior at Byron High School. She is involved in Concert Band and Chamber Choir. Kaci was selected to the All State Choir as an Alto 1. Kaci’s future plans include to continue her track career. Kaci participates in Track and Field, Cross Country, Band, and Choir. Kaci’s thoughts on making All-State are” I am very proud and always satisfied with my accomplishments. Music has always come naturally to me and the choir program here is phenomenal!” Kaci’s favorite memory of choir is singing/competing at solo and ensemble contest.

Isaac Mondello is a junior in Chamber Choir and Symphonic Band. His parents are Jason Mondello and Mellissa Mondello. Isaac will sing Bass 1 in the All-State Choir. Isaac is a second year member of the All-State Ensemble, he made it last year as a sophomore. His future plans are to attend college, but he is undecided on his major. Isaac has participated in Cross Country and Track and Field. He has been involved in both Band and Choir. Isaac’s thoughts on making All-State are: “I am so excited! This is my second year going, and the experience last year was so great. I hope to develop even more this year, whether it be online or in person. His favorite memory of choir is making All-State last year,” just because it showed that I was having huge success with the class and it made me really happy and excited to continue.”

Tyler Mrozek is a senior this year. Tyler was selected to the All-State Choir as a Tenor 2. Tyler’s parents are Kathy and Ken Mrozek. He has participated in Chamber Choir and Show Choir while in high school. Tyler has also been involved in the Byron Theater Troupe’s productions. Tyler’s thoughts on making All-State are “I was so happy to make it because I have been working for it the past two years, and I finally made it.” He is interested in working on virtual reality modeling. His favorite memory of choir was Augustana Chamber Choir festival.

Sophie Tucker is a junior who is involved in Chamber Choir and Concert Choir. Sophie made the Honors All-State Ensemble as a 1st soprano. Her parents are Jill and Jeff Tucker. Her future plans include majoring in Musical Theater or Music Business in college. She is involved in Theater, Speech, Swim Team Manager, Byron Thespian Troup, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National English Honors Society, Chamber Choir, and Concert Choir.

Her thoughts on making All-State “I’m very excited that I’ve made All State Honors Choir because it is a huge accomplishment and reflects my love for music!” Sophie’s favorite memory was when the Chamber Choir visited Augustana College and sang with a lot of different schools! It was amazing to learn with students all over Illinois.

While the students are at the All-State Festival, they will attend numerous rehearsals, attend workshops, panel discussion and master classes. They also will perform a final concert at the Peoria Civic Center. They will be accompanied to the festival by their teachers, Natalie Haas, band director, and Amy Harn, choir director. The students are grateful for the financial support from the Byron School District to make it possible for them to attend the All-State Festival.

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