Striking a new chord: The return to in-person All-State Auditions

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Linda Holmberg

The PV musicians selected to the 2019 Iowa All-State Music Festival pose for a photo.

Erika Holmberg, Copy Editor

After its devastating cancellation last year due to COVID-19, the prestigious Iowa All-State Music Festival is making its return. With its return comes the renewed challenge of stressful in-person auditions. 

The honorable Iowa All-State Music Festival, held at Iowa State University’s Hilton Coliseum, is composed of the finest musicians across the state in band, choir and orchestra. 

In order to be admitted into the festival, musicians must embark a rigorous audition process involving proficiency in scales, solos, etudes and selected musical cuts. 

During a typical audition year, musicians travel to various audition sites across the state to perform their prepared works for a panel of judges. The agonizing waiting period for auditions, recalls and the eventual selection of the festival created a stressful but exciting day for eager musicians. 

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered both in-person auditions and the festival for safety reasons. Fortunately, students were still able to send in virtual audition recordings to earn the title of an All-State finalist. 

Now that auditions are back to their original in-person format, many students are frantically preparing for an audition they have yet to experience. 

Junior Shobini Iyer will be experiencing an in-person All-State audition for the first time this year. “I definitely feel a lot more pressure this year with the in-person format. We don’t have the ease of multiple takes and having our director in the audition room with us. It feels like I’m going through the process for the first time.” 

Sifting through unfamiliar audition territory is not the only fear amongst first-time auditioners. Being able to perform under the added pressure of a single audition can be unsettling. 

“Last year, I took advantage of the online format by making multiple attempts to ensure I was submitting my best performance,” Iyer stated. “Because we don’t have this added comfort level this year, it makes this year’s process a little more daunting.”

With the addition of many inexperienced auditioners, the PV music faculty has gone to great lengths to ensure each musician is adequately prepared both musically and mentally for the upcoming auditions. 

“We have a great system in place for selecting students, putting them into quartets, scheduling regular rehearsals, and attending workshops and bringing in clinicians, and we were able to utilize all of that this year,” expressed Head PV Choral Director Meg Byrne. “No matter what the outcome, they have all worked tremendously hard and improved through this process.”

Despite these stressful adjustments, PV musicians are excited to take part in the returning prestigious festival. 

“Going back to in-person All-State is great. I am definitely excited for this year and I am excited to hear the other groups perform at our yearly potluck before All-State,” exclaimed returning PV All-State vocalist Parker Paulson. 

Auditions for this year’s Iowa All-State Musical Festival will take place on Oct. 23 at Washington High School. 

Excitement is in the air for first-time PV auditioners. Between their strong mental and musical preparations, these musicians are more than ready to take the stage.