Students travel to participate in All-State Band

Sarah Earle, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, April 7, the students who were selected to be a part of the Virginia All State Band left for George Mason University. The five band members representing HHS were seniors Hollyn Slykhuis,  Laura Ruple and Kieran McClay, junior Joshua Jordan and sophomore Katya Kirilyuk. For Kirilyuk, this is a big step in her career on the violin.

“This is my first time [participating in All Virginia Band]. I didn’t audition last year. The scariest thing I guess about auditioning was the prepared etudes. I knew them, but I was scared because I didn’t know how well I would do. I do plan on auditioning next year,” Kirilyuk said. “I decided to audition because I had a great time at SRO [Shenandoah Regional Orchestra] and I thought that I might as well audition [at All-VA band], plus we don’t have many opportunities in Harrisonburg to do these things.” Kirilyuk was also in City-County Honors Band and District Band.

“[The difference between district and all state is that] most of the time I’m with percussion, but I did SRO on violin,” Kirilyuk said. “All-District band is smaller. Not as many people are auditioning because it’s a smaller area. State is more competitive because it’s all of the state, plus Northern Virginia is very competitive. I am not sure about the level, but it’s definitely harder than most things in Harrisonburg.” Kirilyuk was looking forward to playing with people who have the same passion as her.

“[I am most excited about] bowling! I am excited to play with people who are actually really good because in Harrisonburg, there aren’t many good violinists. SRO was fun because of that and I am sure that all state is going to be even better.” Kirilyuk said. All State Band has required Kirilyuk to do some preparation.

“I didn’t really prepare for [the actual event] a lot. I got my music a long time ago, but I looked at it with my teacher the week before. Most of the practicing was during the actual event,” Kirilyuk said. “I got an etude and an excerpt, so I had to practice those and those are like my prepared pieces. I do a lot of sight reading already, but I used some songs that I didn’t know and I sight read them. I had to know my scales.” When the band arrived on Thursday, they immediately started preparing for the event. Although everything went well for Kirilyuk at George Mason, she was overwhelmed by being the only one in the Orchestra.

“[I was most nervous about] lunch. Most of the time we had a scattered lunch. I’m in Orchestra and I didn’t know anybody in Orchestra because our other HHS people were in different bands, so I didn’t know where to sit. It worked out pretty well,” Kirilyuk said. After all of the rehearsing, Kirilyuk said the concert ended up going well.

“The concert was good. We came out on stage and we didn’t have our music because they took it. We started tuning and everything, and we still didn’t have our music, so that was kind of scary. But then, they brought [our music] out. I didn’t expect it to be so good.”

For senior Hollyn Slykhuis, this year was a lot more laid back and exciting.

“It was a lot of fun. This was the first year I’d been that we’d taken such a big group from Harrisonburg, so that definitely made the experience more fun. Knowing it was my last year I kind of looked at it a little bit differently. The competitive aspect of it was not as intense because I knew I wouldn’t be auditioning again. I was just coming to have a good weekend and see people I knew and meet new people,” Slykhuis said. “I knew a lot of more people from previous years that I’d met. I really liked the music that we played this year.” Slykhuis has been in All-VA Band for her sophomore, junior, and now senior, years.

“The first time I was really surprised that I got in because I was not expecting it at all. I was actually in the Symphonic band, so I was really pushed that year because I did play so high. The music was really challenging and the event was kind of intimidating because I didn’t know anyone there and the other person from our school wasn’t in my band. I had to meet new people and I had to figure out how to play the music. I was kind of scary, but it was very, very fun,” Slykhuis said. Slykhuis enjoyed the music they were supposed to play at the concert.

Before the concert, Slykhuis was awarded something that would benefit her trumpet playing in college.

“While I was there I was awarded a scholarship, so that’s going to help me go to college and pursue music education. That was really helpful and exciting. The guy walked out and said he was the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. They were about to announce who won and I started panicking, but after they announced it, I could calm down and play a good concert,” Slykhuis said. “I’m majoring in music education in college, so I will be taking my trumpet with me. I’m actually looking at doing a double major in music performance, as well, but either way I will be doing a lot of playing. [The most exciting part was] getting that scholarship. They didn’t tell me beforehand. I applied and auditioned a few months ago and then we’ve just been waiting to hear. We just tuned and everything, we were about to start the concert, then they came out and announced it, and I had no idea. That was really exciting.”

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