My three all-state weekends contain some of my best musical memories from high school. I played my first Grainger pieces, became more aware and appreciative of orchestral and choral music, played under one of the best conductors I have experienced (Dr. John Lynch in 2015), and met like-minded students who have become my friends and colleagues. I still look back fondly on my all-state experience as a formative time in my growth as a musician that ultimately played into my decision to become a music educator. Even though I attend college in Oklahoma, I plan to come back to Iowa when I graduate, and I hope that I can help my future students achieve this honor and lifetime memory like I did.
I remember All State as a fun experience where I got to be with my friends doing what we loved...playing our instruments. I also remember the nervousness of auditions and the hours of practicing in school gyms waiting for my audition time. I relived that tension as I took my daughter to auditions years later. I always loved playing the Battle Hymn with the chorus. To this day, I still watch All State concerts as they are televised on public television.
I have great memories of All-State Orchestra dating back to 1964. When I was in high school the festival was held in Des Moines. The orchestra rehearsed at the Savery Hotel and the final concert was in the KRNT Theater. Chair auditions were held in one of the ballrooms at the hotel with all the cellists sitting in a large oval. The adjudicators would select a student to play the chair audition excerpts, and then select another student, and so on. The real nerve-racking part of this was that we auditioned in front of every other cellist in the orchestra. Years later, as a high school orchestra teacher, I had the honor of being one of the adjudicators for chair auditions, a privilege I continued through most of my teaching career. Over the years I have met many talented cellists from across the state and had the opportunity to work with numerous fellow educators/adjudicators whom I admire and respect to this day. All-State is a unique opportunity for student musicians (and teachers) to gather together and make great music and lasting memories. I am thankful that I was able to be a part of the journey.
As a freshman, I really didn’t know what it took to be an all-stater. I worked very, very hard on my audition material and went into that first all-state audition feeling like I was probably as prepared as I could be. I felt like the audition went well, but I didn’t know my competition or the bar that I had to meet.
As I sat on the bleachers at Storm Lake High School anxiously awaiting the results, my band director slowly walked over to me with a somber face and said “I’m sorry but you didn’t make the all-state band this year.” Saddened but not surprised, I lowered my head in defeat. His expression quickly changed to a wide grin and he said “You made the all-state orchestra!” Needless to say, my day suddenly improved and thus began the first of four years of great music making and memories that I’ll never forget.
All-State has changed my life. It gives me something to hope for every year, playing in a fantastic festival with wonderful players of extraordinary caliber. I look upon each memory I have of the festivals I was a part of with great joy and gratitude. Being accepted into the festivals opened up a wide area of opportunities for me, as a student and instrumentalist. The audition processes, of being accepted and chair placement, are incredibly stressful, but they have taught me so many skills that I am positive I will use for many years to come. Without this festival, I would still be a slightly unmotivated and lazy player. The entire “All-State experience” is something I never want to change, for it all leads up to the euphoria of each moving, and stupendous concert. Thank you, All-State, for all you have given me.
I attended the first Iowa All-State, held in Des Moines in 1946. I was in elementary school; our music teacher took us. After moving to Mason City, I sang in All-State my sophomore and senior years of high school. My sister, Marianne Cook Chalstrom also sang in All-State. I moved away from Iowa, living and working in St. Louis, Detroit and New Haven, CT. When we moved back to Iowa for me to teach at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, two of our sons, Joel Everist and Kirk Everist, both sang in All-State and were soliosts.
Joel, as choral director at Mason City High School for almost three decades, has taken hundreds of students to All-State to sing. His two children, Jennaya and Jackson, were selected for All-State in 2019 and 2020. Three generations over 75 years!
Playing in the All State festival each year of high school was my start to an aspiring music career in Nashville, TN. The level of musicianship involved, the entire weekend of rehearsals and performing, being on a big campus and exploring Ames (coming from living in a small town of course) made the entire trip one of my favorite parts of high school.
There isn't a specific memory necessarily, just that All-State was the first step in realizing that I could potentially take my music making and turn it into a living. My first year I met another trombonist, and they currently play in the Boston area. They are one of the main reasons I ended up in San Francisco for my masters degree and subsequently entering into what we call collectively as the "Freeway Philharmonic." There's also a trumpet player out here in SF, and along with All-State we played together in numerous honor ensembles growing up in Iowa. It's wonderful to have those sorts of connections after all these years of playing.
I do hope that on breaks students are still swamping all the booths and figuring out who has the best free food/snacks. I also hope the food at ISU still continues to put students to sleep for afternoon rehearsals. No matter the food combination, I would always some how always get a nap in during some rests. There are somethings that just are inherent to trombonists I guess.
There is nothing like being a part of the Iowa All State Festival and the chills you get when you are surrounded by outstanding talent working together to create sound and beauty.
Our first rehearsal was at Hoover HS in Des Moines and I got seated next to a very outgoing and friendly alto name Mary Beth Petersen. It was an amazing three days that have truly changed my life. We got to dance back in the days when there was a dance for the all-state kids at the Howard Johnson's Hotel. We held hands during the concert and now some 32 years later we have been married for 19 years and have two amazing kids, one of which was selected into the 74th annual All-State music festival. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!
- Ryan and Mary Beth Riewerts
The echo of the final chord of Maslanka's "Give Us This Day" in 2014 is unforgettable!
On audition day, I was selected on a call back my senior year. After auditioning every year of high school I was convinced I didn't have the chops. My high school choir director encouraged me and continued to work with our group and had faith that I would in fact make the choir. Her faith in us proved to be a life-changing event. I am convinced I wouldn't be where I am right now without that experience.
There are two pieces I’ll never forget playing at All-State: Tchaikovsky’s Finale of the 4th Symphony in 2010, and Battle Hymn in 2012. Playing Tchaikovsky in 2010 was my first experience playing with an orchestra. I’ve always loved band, and I still do to this day, but playing with an orchestra is such a different experience. It was so moving to feel energy of the strings and the power behind a much smaller wind section. It was a really special experience that opened my eyes to whole new world of music.
The final Battle Hymn I ever played was undoubtedly my favorite. I was feeling emotional that evening, knowing it was my last All-State concert, feeling proud to have made it to the ranks of other 4-year members, and to have the orchestra and choir come together for such a moving piece of music is a musical memory I still cherish to this day. Battle Hymn will always hold a special place in my heart. Such beautiful writing that has come to represent so many great memories from my time in high school. Every year when the concert is broadcast, I look forward to that performance the most.
My all state experiences in general are my top memories of high school! Some of the best, life long friendships developed at all state, and I even got to meet a long-lost cousin and learn about some family history through all state. It was so special to get to play music with so many friends and family members at one time. The music choices were always incredible as well. My favorites were Tchaikovsky Symphony 4 finale and whenever the orchestra got to play Battle Hymn. I feel so privileged and honored to have had the opportunity to be part of the all state orchestra with so many incredible people!
The festival itself was a memorable part of my high school music career. It was really special to be among other high school musicians and spend days rehearsing together, though I remember being pretty sore after playing for so long, which I hadn't experienced previously. My high school band directors devoted a lot of unpaid hours to our audition process and preparation, so it was also really rewarding to attend the festival with them.
I really enjoyed getting to play under the direction of composers (Dr. Timothy Mahr and Jan Van der Roost) and found the opportunity to play works like Children's March and Russian Christmas Music to fortify my own performance aspirations.
Since my own participation, having an opportunity to help with auditions in Indianola while I taught in the district and watching the performances on IPTV with my family has helped the sweet memories of the Iowa All State Music Festival come to mind every year.
A percussion section of mostly girls! I was also selected to play a timpani solo and the timpani were on risers so I was really high up... a new experience for me because I’m only 5 feet tall.
The flute members of the 1969 All State band had been quietly instructed to memorize the technical, challenging trio of Invictus March by Karl King. That requirement isn't listed on the official instruction sheet for the festival, which I still have, but our home directors had passed that along to us. Sure enough, at our first rehearsal of Invictus, the conductor focused on the trio, and seemed quite pleased that the flutes could play the part so well! He then told the flutes to all stand and see if they could play it for memory--which we could, of course, at that stage! We never knew for sure if he was "in on" the memorization plan, or if he was as surprised and excited as he appeared. Either way, there were many delighted, proud smiles on the faces of the band flute players that day.
My sophomore year of high school was only my second year of choir. I'll never forget sitting in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium for the first time with 599 other high school singers and hearing our sound on the first warm-up. I couldn't believe how amazing we sounded and felt so blessed to be in a choir with so many other talented musicians. We sang 'Song of Triumph' in 1993 and heard the story of why it was written. It was so powerful. We even had Dale Grotenhuis in attendance. Hearing him talk about the song and what it meant to him made such a lasting impression on me. For the first time, I understood the power of music and the potential it had to heal broken hearts and uplift the spirit. It was that first All-State weekend in 1993 that I first considered teaching music myself. Four years later, I officially became a Music Major and twenty-eight years later, I find myself teaching high school choir students and preparing them for the Iowa All-State Music Festival. What a privilege it is to help students prepare for this special weekend. I hope that through their performance, hearts will continue to be healed and spirits will continue to be uplifted.
Iowa All-State provided an experience that wouldn't have been possible solely through a choir in a small Iowa high school. Sharing that excellence when we got home made our local choir even better. I saved copies of the All-State pieces and used favorite ones with a highly successful community chorale I formed 17 years ago which is still going strong. The musical excellence continues even outside of Iowa in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho!
Thanks, Iowa All-State, for the solid start to a lifetime musical career!
This afternoon I was reminded of Iowa All-State 1975 as I walked by a wooden sign hanging in Mom's garage with the names of those who made it into All-State that year from LDF High School. It has probably hung there for 40 years!!!
What an experience we had! Much of the fun happened before we got there: all the early morning rehearsals, learning music we never thought possible, trying our best to please Mr. Allen Chapman and failing, dating someone in our quartet 😎... it was all good!
I've lived a lifetime as a professional musician, performer and educator. I look back and realize what a profound effect my experiences of preparing for, auditioning, and participating in the Iowa All-State Chorus had. At one point I even had the opportunity to be an All-State Choir judge, something I could never have imagined in high school.
I remember making new friends from all over the state and feeling that all the hard work to get there was worth it. When the music came together in the ensemble it was magical! As a professional musician, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of all facets of this yearly event for current music students. The experiences I had at All-State helped prepare me for my work today and helped me realize that a world of musical opportunities still await.
One of my favorite things about All-State is that all of us are able to perform at an elite level so anytime we jam out on our free time as a group, it is always full of harmonies and sounds really good. For instance, last year we were jamming out in the commons of CY Stephens and sang “Blogodop” as if we had learned it yesterday, and it was awesome to be able to work as a team to reminisce about past festivals.
My high school didn't have an orchestra, so All-State was my first time ever playing with string instruments. The first thing we played at our very first rehearsal was the opening to the fourth movement of Dvorak's 9th symphony, and I'll never forget the sound of 20 string bases playing the minor second that opens that movement. It was truly incredible, and is one of my absolute favorite memories of my oboe career.
My dad was in the very first All State band (percussion), and I was in the 25th All State band (clarinet).
My dad was a band director and I remember attending part of an All State band rehearsal (mid 60's?) as a young child - I was thrilled and decided right then and there that I was going to be in the Iowa All State band when I was in high school.
Simon Estes was the bass soloist and I just remember thinking how lucky I was to be part of this, as well as having Weston Noble conduct the band, choir and orchestra together. I also was fortunate to have Dale Mullholland autograph my copy of "Ode to Music!" I'm a choral teacher today and run the largest middle school choral program in Virginia. This experience was a large part of my formation and I'm so thankful.
Meeting people from across the state and towns I had never heard of. And the bagels every morning before rehearsal!
My All-State experience really solidified my desire to follow in my fathers footsteps and become a choral director. During my 3 years in the choir I was introduced to the music of Dominick Argento, Richard Burchard, Morten Lauridsen and many others and it fostered my continued love of choral music today. Singing those amazing pieces with so many talented singers made me think “yeah, I want to do this for the rest of my life.” I since have gotten the joy of watching my sister in the All-State Choir as well, and am now a high school choral director and have taken students of my own to the festival. Truly great memories that I will treasure my whole life.
After being recalled my freshman, sophomore and junior years I finally made All-State my senior year, playing Flute 1. I also was selected to play Piccolo that year. Performing "America the Beautiful" under the direction of Weston Noble was definitely a highlight.
I will never forget the moment Paul Salamunovich stepped to the podium to begin the first rehearsal of the 1969 All-State Chorus. The first thing he did was look up to the control room at the back of the KRNT Theater and asked the technicians to give more light on his face. He said, "I direct with my eyes as well as my arms." He then worked tirelessly with the sopranos to unify their sound and make the choir's balance less top-heavy. He told us the foundation of a choral sound should come from the lower voices. It was known as the "Salamunich Sound." Once we reached that balance we became a new choir. I could sense that each one of my choir mates quickly realized we had been lifted to a new level. It was the richest choral sound I had ever experienced. I will never forget it. It's as vivid today as it was in 1969.
Mr. Salamunovich inspired us with countless word pictures and vocal techniques throughout all our rehearsals. To this day, whenever I sing, I can do no other than sing what the words are saying to the best of my ability. It was a life-changing moment for which I am forever grateful. Thank you deeply, Paul Salamunovich, and the All-State Music Festival!
The concert came and was stunning (as always). When I met up with him after the concert, he thanked me a bunch and congratulated me on achieving four-year-member status. It was a really cool memory, as the conductor of any of the All-State ensembles hold a high pedestal in my book. Any responsibility from them feels like a special honor, and I was honored to have that! Shown is the picture he and I took afterwards.
Another memory I have is the euphonium section photo. For the last several years, it has become tradition for the euphonium section to take a photo right before the concert. This is taken by first chair. It's a great bonding moment, and it was really cool for me to have the honor to carry it out for three years! Hopefully this tradition continues throughout the years!
Happy All-State season everyone!
Right before the concert my senior year, Dr. Golemo, the conductor of the band that year, spotted me on the end of one of the rows. He came up to me and asked, "Hey, I have a really big favor to ask you. I don't have any pockets in this tux, and there's no safe place for me to put my wallet and keys. Would you mind holding onto them? I know I'm putting a lot of trust in someone I don't know, but it would be a big favor!" Shocked by the request, I happily agreed to hold onto them.
I have very fond memories of my All-State experience! I was awarded 1st chair tuba in 1992 AND 1993, and I am so proud of this accomplishment! I am also proud to have been present as we performed for the very first time "in the round" in 1993. What a wonderful program and experience available to our musical youth!
When our director decided to organize all 600 of us by birthday from January 1st to December 31st so we could meet our chorus birthday buddies during rehearsal, and also dancing along to "Cindy".
Being a part of the Allen Chapman era at Fort Madison HS was special enough, but being a part of the Iowa All-State Music Festival was a powerful part of my high school years. I had a year of not making the cut and then two years of the immense energy and pride that came from seeing the white paper unrolling with my name on it in black marker. It was such a delight to return to the Music Festival as an All-State parent in 2019 with my daughter, Lucy. It was thrilling to know that she has been able to perform with some of the best student musicians and to get this marvelous experience. While All-State weekend was all about Lucy, I had great fun digging through my box of high school memories to find my "I'm An All-Stater" bumper sticker to get a photo with Lucy and her bumper sticker. Thank you for putting on a great festival every year.
In 1990, Weston Noble was the chorus director and we sang "Cindy"...a hoedown song. He decided he wanted some dancers. There were about 20 of us that danced in the middle of the song, in checkered shirts and skirts, right in the middle of Hilton! It was so fun!
I met my college roommate at All-State. We sat next to each other for the entire festival and right before the final concert, we decided to request each other as roommates at Wartburg College (we were both seniors). We ended up living together, being very close friends, and traveling to Asia together with the wind ensemble in college. She was even a bridesmaid in my wedding...all because we sat together at All-State! :)
Singing under Dr. Daniel Moe's direction and changing one line of text in the Battle Hymn from "let us die to make men free" to "let us live to make men free." In the context of knowing that many of us there would soon be going to Vietnam, it was a very poignant moment.
One of my most treasured possessions is an All-State folder with the parts from all four of the festivals I was chosen for (34, 35, 36 and 37). I remember being floored at how many people played violin when I played All-State the first time, and there is absolutely nothing like the feeling of performing the Battle Hymn with that many people. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to participate, and am proud that I had a couple of my own students chosen many years later. There is nothing like it! Congratulations on #75 and I wish you many, many more successful festivals!