High School Students Participate in Senior High School All-County


Max Hershkowitz, Contributing Writer

The 2019-2020 concert season is underway for the Monroe-Woodbury High School students and many students in the musical ensembles have already performed.

After participating in the 2019 winter concert performances, some students have been preparing for various All-County ensembles.

The All-County Festival is a festival that students from schools throughout Orange County audition for. Each county has their respective festival. The yearly festival is sponsored by the OCMEA (Orange County Music Educators Association). Students receive an audition piece to play a few months in advance of the audition. The top students are chosen to participate in their respective ensemble–Orchestra, Band, Chorus, and Jazz Band.

Ensembles are then grouped according to grade level. The Elementary level is 5th and 6th grade, the Junior High level is 7th and 8th grade. 9th graders have the opportunity to audition for either Junior High School or Senior High School, which is 9th to 12th grade. As a student progresses to a new grade level, the musical selection becomes more advanced.

Sixty-seven string students were accepted into the orchestra this year. Of those students, 22 are from Monroe-Woodbury High School. Fifty-three students were accepted for the band, and of those students, 13 are from Monroe-Woodbury. One hundred thirty-five students were also accepted into the chorus, and of those students, 28 are from Monroe-Woodbury High School.

“The way you get into the All-County festival on Long Island is based on your NYSSMA score. Here, we re-audition on a different piece,” said Mr. Champlin, the new symphonic orchestra conductor. “At the festival, [teachers] help to prepare the students in school, help to set up the warm-up rooms on the day of rehearsal, and sometimes we are adjudicators for seating auditions. We also chaperone,” said Mr. Champlin.

“I take pride in using my talent. This festival helps to prepare me for other upcoming musical events. The process for auditioning tests my musical skills and abilities,” said Alexis Leone, a freshman who plays viola.

“I look forward to learning new music each year, and [having] those songs become a part of my repertoire,” said Leone. “Meeting new conductors and playing under their unique conducting styles and techniques is a highlight of the experience. Playing in a full Symphonic Orchestra is also a plus to participating. We do not get the opportunity to play with a band section in our school orchestra.” 

“It is a privilege that I enjoy a lot,” said Tessa DeCeglie, a trumpet player. “First, I learn the audition piece. That takes a long time to get right, so you can get in. I also practice the music for the concert at home, and sometimes there are lessons that you can attend to play with people who made it into the band. If you keep on practicing, it will get easier and easier in the long run.”

“There is always next year to audition, so you can always try again, said DeCeglie. “It’s not impossible to get in.”

“I would recommend auditioning to other students because it is a great experience. If you don’t make it, there is still an opportunity for growth and improvement, which can lead to being accepted into the orchestra the next year. Never give up if you don’t make it,” said Leone.

“There are two ways you can go about not making it. You can take it as defeat, or you can use it as a form of motivation. Take points from adjudicators to use when you practice. Don’t let it discourage you,” said Mr. Champlin. “Practice. Listen to the recordings of the songs as much as possible to see how it sounds [with a full symphonic orchestra].”

The Senior High School All County Festival rehearsals were held on January 24 at Monroe-Woodbury High School. The ensembles performed on January 25 at the High School.