Orchestra students to audition for all-state


Sarosh Ismail

Senior Marianna Rooks plays the cello during orchestra practice. Many of the concerts, such as the cluster concert with the middle schools, have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Select orchestra students will record all-state auditions from Oct. 31 through Nov. 4. 

The Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) has adapted audition processes due to the ongoing pandemic, allowing students an unlimited amount of recording opportunities before turning in submissions.

“Usually we go to a separate site to record the auditions,” orchestra director Matthew Cautivar said. “[Students] have to play all of [the music]  in order, and they only get one chance to record their audition. This year, many of them will be recording from home, so they’ll have a chance to re-record their audition if they want to.”

In addition to changes in the audition process, audition materials have been altered. 

“[The students] normally have two etudes and then a series of excerpts, which are cuts from professional or high level music based on the piece they’re performing [at the TMEA convention],” Cautivar said. “That usually gets released in the spring and a lot of [students] spend the entire summer practicing that music. This year, they made the packet a little shorter.”

Junior KeJuan Thompson plays “Mission Impossible” with the rest of the orchestra during practice. Thompson has been a part of the orchestra program for five years. (Sarosh Ismail)

Junior violist KeJuan Thompson will be auditioning for all-state this year. Thompson auditioned last year as a sophomore and placed above average. Despite his previous experience, Thompson has faced new challenges while preparing his music. 

“Things were different last year – there were more opportunities to go out to private teachers [and] to go to clinics to help you practice,” Thompson said. “With the pandemic, you have to do a lot of things on your own, and virtually.” 

Senior violist Alice Wei is also recording an all-state audition. Wei is a three-time all-state player and is hoping to finish with a four year sweep. If she succeeds, she will be the second orchestra student from the school to make all-state four years in a row. 

Provided by Alice Wei

“This year, [preparation] is different in that I started to figure out ways to add small details to put into my music,” Wei said. “Because it’s a recording, I know a lot of people are going to take advantage of that [by] trying to make the perfect recording; I’m trying to figure out ways [that] I can stand out from other people.” 

Despite changes in the audition and preparation processes, students have continued to find new ways to improve on their music and receive critiques on their playing. 

“Typically, we do after school practice sessions where they’ll come in and do mock or practice auditions,” Cautivar said. “This year, they’re sending me videos of their playing, so I just give them feedback based on [what] they’re sending me.”

With a few days until auditions open, students are working to perfect their music and show a unique style that can be conveyed through their recordings. 

“All-state can be super hard, but if you put in the effort and if you really want it, you can definitely get it,” Wei said. “I feel like anyone can get into all-state and anyone can get into all-region; the amount of time and effort you put [in] is what really makes the difference.”