All-State musicians praise local programs
The three Skaneateles High School students who recently attended the NYSSMA All-State conference gave high praise for the experience – and also applauded their opportunities and teachers here at home.
Jackie Aberi, Sam Smith and Jim Drancsak were among elite musicians chosen from throughout the state to perform at the festival.
Aberi was in the Women’s Choir; Drancsak played violin in the Symphony Orchestra and Smith was the bassist for the Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
Orchestra teacher Karen Veverka said that the role of bassist for the Vocal Jazz Ensemble “is usually reserved for a musician the NYSSMA audition committee feels is one of the top bass players in the state. Sam fit that bill!”
The Symphony Orchestra performed Les Preludes, by Liszt, “one of the most challenging pieces of music in orchestral repertoire to perform,” said Veverka. “Our students did an outstanding and amazing job representing our music students in the State of New York!”
All-State is highly selective. More than 6,000 of the state’s most talented and hopeful music students audition and less than 1,000 are selected to perform in eight groups.
The three Skaneateles musicians said that performing at All State was a peak music experience, in part because of the quality of their fellow performers.
Smith said it was an honor to perform on the stage of Kodak Hall in Rochester, under guidance from staff at the Eastman School of Music.
“Two of our composers were there and worked right with us,” said Aberi of her experience in the chorus, “and the conductors were so advanced.”
While she has gone outside of school for many rich experiences, Aberi attributes the supportive base she’s had in the school district with helping her most. “We have so many groups,” she said, which equals so many opportunities.
Drancsak, who attended All-State for the second time, agreed, saying “The amount of opportunities we have here for the size of the population is just incredible compared to what others might have.”
The students said they realized this especially when comparing programs and opportunities with students from other schools. They praised their music teachers throughout Skaneateles schools, starting with Terry Squires, who just retired.
Smith is attending Berkley College of Music in the fall to study jazz performance. Aberi plans to go into musical theater and Drancsak plans to study music education.