“It’s been pretty consistent of having top three performers in the state,” KHS band director and music coordinator Dale Lhotka said. “This is actually a great year. To have two vocal groups make it in the top three and two instrumental — I think that’s the first time we’ve had that since I’ve been here.”
A total of 24 KHS students competed with 786 of the top high school musicians in the state at the Alaska School Activities Association All-State Solo and Ensemble Festival, held May 6 and 7 in Anchorage.
Hazel De Los Santos took first place in the vocal soloist category and performed at the command performance concert. The jazz ensemble was an honorable mention winner, taking second place, and Josh Wheeler placed the same in trumpet solo.
Also honorable mention and second place winners were Hannah Dunbar, Catherine Le and Danielle Willis in musical theater vocal ensemble.
“I think we’re just seeing a product of a boost of additional music staff and experts teaching in their specialized area,” Lhotka said.
The students were proud of the work they did and had fun while at the competition.
“I guess it was exciting to see other Alaskans being really musically talented,” KHS student Daniel Nero said. “It made me feel good about myself and the whole state about how good we are and talented.”
Josh Wheeler, a sophomore who plays about 21 instruments and was part of the jazz band, couldn’t believe the judges ranked him as third best in the state for his trumpet solo.
“I feel really proud of myself for doing that. It’s better than I expected,” Wheeler said.
Vocalist Kristin Nymeyer just had fun being with a bunch of musically talented students.
“It was cool because they were all musicians and you could walk up to them and be like, ‘Hey, what do you play?’” the sophomore said.
Nymeyer was part of a group that performed the jazz piece “Pink Panther.”
“Our judge really liked the jazz piece. She had almost nothing bad to say about it,” Nymeyer said. “But she told us she’d heard the piece one too many times and she absolutely hated the piece.”
Hate aside, the performance was well received. However, not everyone’s time on the stage was perfect.
“I blanked out on my song,” sophomore Catherine Le said. “That happened during my solo.”
Le set a goal to not forget song lyrics next year, when many of the vocalists and musicians hope to return to the competition and win even more awards or place higher.
“I hope to go back and get a command with a trio and a solo,” sophomore Danielle Willis said. “That would be nice.”
Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via email at email@example.com.