BLS Musicians Perform at MMEA All-State Conference

Maggie Olson and Catherine Cox

Boston Latin School was proudly represented by nine musicians at this year’s annual Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) All-State Conference held from March 5-7. This high school conference, according to the MMEA website, “features as many as 120 sessions, several concert hours and casual concerts, and is attended by more than 800 music educators and 500 of Massachusetts’ top student musicians performing band, orchestral, jazz and choral works.” The 2020 All-State Conference was held at Boston’s Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center, with the concerts being performed at Symphony Hall.

While the conference itself took place over the course of three days, preparation for the performances began long before the March weekend. Mona Wang (II), who plays the viola, reflects on the hard work it took to make it to the conference, stating, “It took a lot of work to prepare for each audition. I personally prepared through individual practice as well as private lessons and mock auditions.

It was time-consuming and caused a lot of stress, but in the end, the work evidently paid off

.” Ronak Saluja (IV), who sings tenor, shares a similar story of hard work to prepare for the conference, saying, “I had to spend a lot of time working individually on understanding the audition pieces, and especially learning how to become better at sight reading. The school helped a lot in this by providing resources for me to practice.”

BLS supported the talented musicians by providing funds, support and instruction leading up to the conference. Wang feels grateful for the support given, acknowledging, “I would especially like to thank […] the music department staff for supporting us through the entire process.” Hannah Oh (IV), who plays the viola, also feels appreciative and says, “I would like to give thanks to Ms. [Susan] Shipley for making sure I would be successful in the performance, and also to [the] BLSA for covering the All-State fee for me and the other BLS musicians who participated.” Aided by the faculty of the music department and their fellow musicians, the students could reach a new level of performance alongside many of the same peers they have practiced with over the years from varying ensembles.

While making it to the All-State Conference is no easy feat, the experience of performing there is worth the effort. Oh advises others to be optimistic when approaching music competitions and says, “If making music is something you enjoy, don’t feel too discouraged by hardships.”

Perseverance plays a key role in the preparation process, auditions, and success in the conference. Aside from being a challenging process to qualify, the conference is an amazing reward for the hardworking musicians, as the day is spent performing with individuals all united by a passion for making music. The BLS individuals are Jason Gao (I) on trumpet, Irene Ju (I) on flute, Brianna Li (I) and Claire Ma (II) on violin, Ross Mikulskis (II) on jazz trumpet, John Nguyen (I) as a tenor, Oh, Saluja and Wang. Congratulations to them for earning their way to the conference, showcasing their talents, and proudly representing BLS among hundreds of gifted performers!