CHAPEL HILL — East Surry High School student Isaiah Collins was recently selected as 12th clarinet to the North Carolina Senior High All-State Honor Band.
All-State Band was held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill earlier this month.
“During the event, Isaiah rehearsed and performed with the best 11th- and 12th-grade student-musicians in the entire state,” said Sonia Dickerson, school director of communications, in announcing his selection.
The Senior High Honor Band was conducted by Gary Green, who recently retired as the director of bands of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. The band performed “Portrait in Jade” by Ryan George, “Dusk” by Steven Bryant, and “Gloriosa” by Yasuhide Ito at its concert in Memorial Hall on the UNC campus.
As an added treat, the band received a visit from composer Steven Bryant on Saturday morning. Bryant, who lives in Durham, assisted with the rehearsal of his piece “Dusk.”
“He explained many aspects of the piece to the group, including background on his composition process and how he intended the piece to be performed,” said Isaiah Collins.
Bryant then listened to the band play while he took notes on his iPad. Once the band finished playing, Bryant returned to the stage to relay his comments to the students.
“Hearing about the piece directly from the composer was an amazing experience,” Isaiah said.
In order to be selected for an All-State Honor Band, students must first audition for one of the six All-District Honor Bands organized by the North Carolina Bandmasters Association, a division of the North Carolina Music Educators Association.
“Not only do students have to make the All-District Honor Band, they must earn one of the highest scores of anyone playing their instrument in order to qualify to audition for All-State Band,” explained Matthew Trice, East Surry band director. “Then, the students must audition against the highest-scoring musicians from each district to be selected for the All-State Band.”
There are three All-State Bands each year: middle school, high school for ninth- and tenth-grade students, and senior high for juniors and seniors. No divisions are made based on school size.
“It is extremely competitive and difficult to make All-State,” Trice said.
Based on the records that are available, county officials believe Isaiah is the first Surry County Schools student to make an All-State Honor Band in 11 years.
The last All-State student from Surry County Schools was Chris Belton, who made the band in 2007 on snare drum. Before that, East Surry student Matthew Key was the last, who made the band in 1995-1996, on trumpet. In 1987, North Surry’s Christian Hinkle took first chair and has gone on to have a lengthy career in the U.S. Army Band.
“Performing at that high of a level was amazing. Being a member of the All-State Band was an incredibly rewarding experience that I will not soon forget,” Isaiah said.