From the President
Now that I’ve grabbed the attention of someone who would normally just flip past the orchestra page, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my column. If you are a band director, I sincerely hope you’ll encourage your students to audition for All-State Orchestra. Our auditions will run from late September into early October – visit www.alabamaorchestraassociation.org for specific District audition times and location times. Right now, you are considering turning the page, because surely you will have a football game or marching competition that conflicts. WRONG! Each District schedules multiple days for auditions, and students are even allowed to audition outside of their district. For instance, the Central District will most likely hold auditions October 6-8, Friday through Sunday. Even with a football game on Friday and a competition on Saturday, your students could still choose Sunday audition times.
Now that you know how feasible it will be for your students to audition, I encourage you to also think of the benefits that your students will gain. Over the past few years, I have heard from band students (or through their directors) who became involved in All-State Orchestra for the first time, sentiments such as “I had a solo part the entire concert!” and “It was amazing playing with strings!” Your students who participate in All-State Orchestra will return to band the next week as new and improved musicians. They may even be inspired to pursue a career in orchestral performance or even conducting.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than by our 2018 Festival Orchestra conductor, Norman Huynh. A young man in his early 30s, Norman is the Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, a coveted position for any conductor, not to mention one of his youthful age. Norman is also a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he was a euphonium-playing Music Education major, and marched in the MILLION DOLLAR BAND!!! I am extremely excited that he accepted my invitation to lead our 2018 Festival Orchestra, and the homecoming that he will receive.
Alabama has such a tremendous wind band culture and when a large number of these great players don’t audition for All-State Orchestra, we orchestra people scratch our heads. It is partly a cultural phenomenon, but I also believe Band Nerds and Orch Dorks are truly cut from the same cloth, and that there is simply a lack of understanding between our communities. I challenge you to play Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 or Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 for your band. Better yet, play them Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, performed by last year’s Festival Orchestra, or the Finale movements from Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 and Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Barber’s School for Scandal Overture or Stravinsky’s Firebird to get an idea of what’s in store for the 2018 All-State Orchestras. Believe me – your students will thank you.