Written by Phil Cerroni
By Tracy Begland
A record breaking 19 Coppell High School band students earned spots in All-State Band.
“Nineteen is the highest number of students we have ever had qualify for the 5A Texas All-State Band,” CHS head band director Scott Mason said. “I feel very proud to be part of such an unbelievable program.”
About 50,000 of the state's 250,000 high school band students tried out for the 300-member All-State Bands.
Coppell students making the All-State Band for the first time are Alisha Punjwani, English horn; Harrison Haas, contra bassoon; Annabell Kim, flute; Hannah Thorp, B-flat Clarinet; Cejay Zhu, B-flat Clarinet; Clint Blackwell, contra bass clarinet; Matt Smith, alto saxophone; Anthony Stanley, French horn; Joey Pye, trumpet; and Shane Murray, trombone.
Students earning spots in the All-State Band for the second time include MadiZill, alto clarinet; Aidan McGraw, bass clarinet; Brandy Sun, flute; Harini Suresh, oboe; Jason Fang, bassoon; Chris Lugo, French horn; Jonathan Bolton, trumpet; and Mark LeGros, tuba.
Cinnie Lin achieved this state level accomplishment on the E-flat clarinet for the third time.
The road to All-State began last summer when students first got their music.
“We start in August preparing students on their All State Music, and offer master classes throughout the year,” Mason said.
Last fall a series of auditions began with tryouts for either all-region band or all-region orchestra in 28 regions across the state. In December, 114 Coppell students made the Region 20 North Zone All-Region Band, which includes some 20 5A high schools in the Dallas area.
Forty seven of these CHS students went on to qualify for the area competition. Competing with students from north Houston, Austin, Waco and the Dallas area, nineteen CHS musicians were named All-State Band members on Jan. 12. They will attend the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Band /Choir/Orchestra clinic and concert Feb. 13-16 in San Antonio where they will audition one last time for placement in one of the two bands or two orchestras.
Mason, who has seen more than 200 CHS students make All-State Band during his 22 years at Coppell, said that the All State process provides students with the opportunity to reach for a very high standard as musicians.
Junior MadiZill, a two-time All-Stater said the best part is getting to perform with outstanding musicians and creating an amazing concert in only four days.
“I’ve learned so much about becoming a better musician throughout the whole All-State process,” Zill said.
Senior Chris Lugo, who has also qualified twice, said this achievement required practice time of up to three to four hours per day.
“The best part is being rewarded for all my hard work and the time I put into preparing for my audition. It is a very nerve wracking and stressful experience, and I take great pride in this honor,” Lugo said.
Trombonist Shane Murray agreed.
“Making All-State is one of the greatest accomplishments one can do in high school band, and I knew the work it took to get there would make me a better musician,” Murray said.
In addition to daily two hour practices, Murray had to skip a family ski trip to be ready for the early January audition.
Senior Aidan McGraw said he enjoyed the rehearsals and performance with the All-State Band.
“You are surrounded by the best young musicians in Texas, and being able to be a part of that group is amazing,” McGraw said. Next fall he plans to play in the University of Texas at Austin Marching Band.
For band director Mason, the All-State process provides a rare opportunity.
“I see most of my students in large group settings, so I enjoy getting to work with students one on one as they prepare for their auditions,” Mason said. “I am very fortunate to teach in a school district where the students are so dedicated and hard working.”