By Priscilla Kadima and Kathleen McGinty         

Senior Rebecca Long, junior Clara Kim, and freshman Nicholas Renton have qualified to perform at the Massachusetts Music Educators’ Association (MMEA) 2012 All-State Music Festival.  The All-State Concert will be held on Saturday, March 3, at Symphony Hall in Boston.

The annual festival is comprised of a talented number of students from schools across the state of Massachusetts. The festival includes performances by a concert and jazz band, chorus, and symphony orchestra.

In order to perform at the All-State Music Festival, musicians and singers must go through an audition process.  Students first audition for the MMEA Northeastern District Senior Music Festival.  Those who receive a score in the top 50 percent of districts are recommended to then try out for the All-State Festival.  During this audition, performers are called individually into a room to either sing or play their instrument in front of a judge that evaluates the mechanics and technicalities of the performance.

According to Renton, auditions can be both rigorous and challenging. “The All-State vocal audition process is quite intense,” he said.

However, despite the high caliber of ability expected by the judges during the audition process, Long, Kim, and Renton each succeeded in qualifying.

“I guess I was happy!” said Long, who will be performing in the All-State Music Festival for the second time as a violist in the orchestra.  “I started violin when I was seven, but I switched to viola last year.”

Kim, who has been playing the flute since she was in sixth grade, will also be returning to perform at the festival as a second chair flutist in the band. “When I first went to All-State in my freshmen year, I had a wonderful experience,” she said. “So, after that, I audition for all-state every year.  It’s my third year that I qualified to participate in the All-State, so I was pretty excited to perform in such a good music program again.”

Kim also discussed the possibility of furthering her music career in the future. “I am currently thinking of double-majoring for music in college,” she said, “but if I don’t, I still want to play flute as a hobby.”

While Long and Kim will have had experience performing at the festival before, Renton, a freshman, will do so for the first time on Saturday.  He has been selected to be a tenor in the chorus.

“When Mr. Mercer told me, I was actually quite surprised but also honored,” Renton stated.  “I am really looking forward to performing with such talented young musicians and putting together a great show.”  Renton attributes his passion for singing to Mrs. Walker, one of his fifth-grade teachers at West Elementary School, who encouraged him to join the Merrimack Junior Theater (MJT) and a musical theater workshop called Confetti Kids.

“After that, I got lots of encouragement to stick with singing and take advantage of the opportunities on offer at school and in town,” he said.

This week, Long, Kim, and Renton will travel to Boston to practice with other qualifiers in the state.  Rehearsals will be held on March 1 and 2 at the Boston Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center in preparation for Saturday’s All-State Concert.