The Oregon Music Education Association’s annual conference, one of the biggest events for music teachers and music students in Oregon, is just around the corner. The Oregon Music Education Association was created in response to the defunding of music education in schools, and, in an attempt to stop the decline of music education, holds conferences and clinics for music educators and music students. Every year, hundreds of music teachers and music students from across the state, including members from South Eugene High School, now regularly participate in the Oregon Music Education Association conference. This year, the conference will start on Jan. 13 and end on Jan. 15.
Gale Fiszman, the orchestra and string ensemble teacher at South Eugene High school, said that music enthusiasts attend the Oregon Music Education Association conference to “learn different techniques in music, to get inspired, and to attend different clinics.”
However, this year will be a little different for South’s participating members. Not only have several students of South’s music department been accepted into the All-State orchestra, but for the first time ever, South’s string ensemble will be playing in concert at the Silva Concert Hall at the Hult Center at 2 p.m. on Jan. 13.
Fiszman said that students who try out for All-State are auditioning to be “the top players from around the state,” and that to be selected for the Oregon All-State band or orchestra is “one of the highest honors a high school musician can receive.” Just the audition itself is “intense,” Fiszman said, requiring students to play professional orchestral works. Only about half of the students pass the audition for All-State. Students who do pass the audition play in a group made up of other All-State accepted students. Erika Parisien and Eli Ablow-Measelle of South’s string ensemble have been accepted into All-State, as well as Cooper Dou from South’s symphonic band and Wes Georgiev from South’s jazz band.
Parisien, who has played the violin for eight years and was also accepted into All-State last year, said the most difficult thing about All-State is “the challenging music and the great amount of time and effort it takes to practice to make sure I am prepared.”
The music All-State students play at the Oregon Music Education Association conference is not released to them until the beginning of December, leaving them with only a little over a month to learn and perfect the music. Fiszman said it is a short time to learn the piece compared to the typical amount of practice time students have.
Despite these challenges, Parisien enjoys participating in All-State. She said that the best part about All-State is “working alongside with other kids my age who are so much more advanced than me; it is really inspiring and makes me want to work harder. I also love meeting so many new people.”
Just as exciting as students qualifying for All-State is the fact that South’s string ensemble will also be featured at the Oregon Music Education Association conference. Every year, the Oregon Music Education Association conference features top music groups from around the state. Groups who are chosen to be featured play in concert at the Silva Concert Hall at the Hult Center. This is the first year South’s string ensemble will perform at the Silva Concert Hall, and Fiszman said it is a major achievement for the music department at South.
“It’s a big call. The [string ensemble] plays on the same stage as the symphony,” Fiszman said, “and it really is an honor to be heard.”
Fiszman hopes that South’s staff and students will attend the Oregon Music Education Association conference to support the All-State musicians.
“It would be inspiring to my students,” Fiszman said.