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Seniors Carson Meritt, John Wombacher, Beckett James and Annika Wulf will perform with All-State musical groups. (Submitted photos)

Westonka is proud to have four high school musicians who were invited to participate in the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) All-State activities. The 2021 MMEA All-State will be a fully virtual All-State Festival to be held on three Saturdays in January and February this year.

Seniors Beckett James, John Wombacher and Annika Wulf were invited to be members of the All-State Choir, while senior bassoonist Carson Meritt was honored to join the All-State Orchestra.

High school musicians from around the state are selected each spring for these elite groups through an intensive audition process. Week-long camps are held during the summer and then the musicians gather again for mid-winter clinics and performances in February. Although this year’s activities have looked different, the prestige and honor that comes with being named an All-State musician is the same.

“This year, All-State has become an entirely virtual experience,” said choir director Kelly Newell, whose heart “breaks” for the seniors who are missing such special things this year. “It’s pretty complex, but they found a way.”  

A schedule of online rehearsals and coaching is planned to support students in preparing two works for a video and audio collage that will be created professionally and will be aired at a Virtual Watch Party to be held later in the spring.

“The All-State audition materials are very difficult and demand that students play at a very high level,” said band director Gretchen Chilson. “I’m incredibly proud of Carson for earning his way into the All-State Orchestra.”

The All-State program, sponsored by the Minnesota Music Educators Association, attracts auditions each spring from over 2,000 musicians statewide, who are vying for spots in the one of the All-State performing groups. Fewer than 600 students are chosen to participate. Those students who are selected through the audition process perform with other talented students from across Minnesota in a camp setting. All-State is an intensive musical program for some of the very best musicians in Minnesota’s high schools.

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