Two Heights Students Participated in Honors Orchestra

Olivia Talbert

  For years, Shawnee Heights has been home to a few of the best musicians in Northeast Kansas. This year two students, Maryn Phillips, sophomore, and Isabelle Luckman,senior, are of these musicians, partaking in Honors District Orchestra and Choir. To participate in this elite performance, both Philips and Luckman had to endure a lengthy blind audition process along with hundreds of other musicians from schools in the Northeast district. Also participating in the Honors 9th grade orchestra are five freshmen who were selected by the orchestra directors. A few schools that participate in the auditions are Olathe Northwest, Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission, Seaman, Washburn Rural and other surrounding schools. In preparation for this event, students are given pieces of music that are to be prepared for the audition.

     “I went into the audition with the mindset that it was going to be a positive learning experience for me, which it was,” Phillips said. “I was shocked when I saw my name on the list because of how many people auditioned and how difficult it is to get in.”

     This was Philip’s first time auditioning for Honors Choir.

     “I feel like my actual audition was the best I had ever auditioned compared to the past two years,” Luckman said.  “Intonation and style were really good, and I made sure to play clearly for the judges. Overall, I feel very proud of my accomplishments this year since I was competing against so many other violists.”

     Now that Luckman has surpassed the audition for Honors District Orchestra, she will take part in State Honors District Orchestra auditions. State auditions are live, with participants performing in front of multiple judges. This adds additional intensity to the auditions, along with the best players in the state competing for a spot. The orchestra auditions are Jan. 6 in Salina.

     “I’m still practicing the excerpts and cleaning things up a bit, so I really hope to knock it out of the park when I try out for State. I feel quite confident that it is something I can accomplish,” Luckman said.

     This year also marks the last year of Topeka participating in the Northeast District, with plans for new district boundaries in place. The new district will include schools closer in proximity like Lawrence, Baldwin, Lansing and Leavenworth. Reforms for the auditioning process are also being considered. The motivation behind the new district is to give more students opportunities to participate by decreasing the number of competitors in an area.

      Phillips is performing Dec. 2 at Shawnee Mission Northwest HS, and Luckman on that same day at Olathe South High School.