Loomis Chaffee Pelicans Attend CMEA’s All-State Music Festival


Courtesy of Isabella Jiang '22

All State qualifiers (from left to right): Benson Wang ’23, Isabella Jiang ’22, Emily Khym ’23, Max Jiao ’24, Lexi Barry ’25, Oscar Kong ’25, Charlie Jiang ’24.

Max Jiao '24, Contributor

On March 31 through April 2, the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA) hosted their annual All-State Music Festival. Students from schools across the state gathered in the Connecticut Convention Center for the weekend, ready to make music with some of the finest high school musicians in the state.
The festival lasted three days with intensive rehearsals on the first two and the concert on the last. Performers were selected in early February through video recordings instead of in-person auditions as a result of the outbreak of the Omicron variant.
“I was disappointed that the auditions were not in person, since in-person auditions have an authenticity to it, as music is for other people,” Isabella Jiang ’22 said, “but doing it online does allow you to pick the best [recording] and show your best ability to the judges.”
Each candidate showcased their talent through demanding excerpts that tested both musicality and technique.
“The pieces were definitely challenging for me, so I was not really confident that I would be able to get in, especially as a freshman, but I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to play with such professional people,” Oscar Kong ’25 said.
Nine students from Loomis Chaffee were accepted to the festival: Isabella Jiang ’22, Emily Khym ’23, and Max Jiao ’24 in the concert band; Benson Wang ’23, Charlie Jiang ’24, Lexi Barry ’25, and Oscar Kong ’25 in the orchestra; Amy Song ’23 in the mixed choir; and Maggie Hamel ’23 in the treble choir.
The 2022 All-State Music Festival was the first in-person All-State Festival in three years, marking the return of CMEA festivals as a whole.
“This All-State, though not different in format from those from many previous years, felt special indeed. It was so good to have students back together making music,” Mr. David Winer, Wind Ensemble Director, said.
Students worked with nationally renowned conductors and had the opportunity to meet and play with a whole new group of people. They rehearsed in their respective ensembles for nearly seven hours each day; however, most seemed to agree that the long hours were well worth their time.
“It was pretty draining, but I actually found the rehearsal hours exciting and enjoyable,” said Amy Song ’23. “I was able to stay engaged throughout the entire rehearsal, thanks to the energy of all the students there and the conductor. Everything went by pretty fast, and I’m still a bit caught up in the lyrics and rhythms we rehearsed in those hours.”
“Honestly, it went by really fast,” Benson Wang ’23 said. “When you get the opportunity to play with some really wonderful musicians playing challenging pieces, you can learn a lot just by sitting there.”
After two concerts by the choir and instrumental groups on Saturday afternoon, the All-State Music Festival officially ended. Nonetheless, performers took away much more than just three days of playing music.
“I’d never been surrounded by people so prepared and focused, and in turn I found that I also was more focused and energetic than I’ve ever been in choir,” said Song. “It motivated me a lot and left me genuinely wanting to come back and have a positive influence [on others] in my own choir classes at Loomis.”
Mr. Winer commented on the scope of Loomis students’ accomplish- ments as musicians.
“I know I can speak for my Loomis colleagues when I say that we are supremely proud of those that made All-State,” he said. “For students from Loomis, and the same for all the students in the All-State ensembles, they are the best from each of their ‘home’ ensembles, so the experience for all of them to play and sing with the best musicians from 150 high schools is imperative for their future musical growth.”
Despite All-State’s short amount of time, the experience of attending the festival meant a lot to the participants.
“Overall, I think All-State can be a really impactful event,” Wang said. “A certain level of excellence is expected, and you are side by side with the best in your state. It’s always surreal when you have fifty players all striving to achieve the same sound and goal. Being able to make such great music with people you never knew before over just a weekend really is a joy.”