A group of musicians and singers from Cinnaminson Middle School and Cinnaminson High School are preparing for the South Jersey Regional Band and Orchestra.
It is an exhaustive process for the students when it comes to auditioning, but very rewarding in the end.
Many taking part this year have done so in the past, beginning with their time in the middle school.
A complete list of all the honorees is at the bottom of the story.
Senior Evan Mariano and sophomore Daniel Sokolowski both earned spots in the South Jersey Orchestra as violinists.
Mariano has been playing the violin for 10 years, while Sokolowski has been playing for seven.
“You practice a solo piece for a period of time and then you audition with scales, sight reading and your solo piece,” Mariano said. “For me personally, I worked throughout the summer.”
The concert will be held at Rowan University on Sunday, January 8 at 3pm.
“I’ve done this twice in high school,” Sokolowski said. “I auditioned for it last year, but didn’t make the orchestra.”
This is the sixth year for Mariano in the orchestra.
“It takes a lot of discipline and work,” Mariano said of the entire process. “If you’re focused, it helps a lot. It also teaches us how to be around other people and performing in front of crowds.”
David Hercock is the Director of Strings in the Cinnaminson School District. He spoke to the difficulty of the audition process.
“Auditions are very, very intimidating. You walk in the room and the judges have their back to you. The hardest part for the kids is getting rid of the nerves. It’s a real high pressure situation.”
The auditions begin at middle school grades for the strings portion of the orchestra.
“Prior to that, they can join the ensemble, but it’s under the director’s discretion,” Hercock said. “They try to make it as fair and even as possible.”
The level of competition is intense, which is why almost all the musicians and singers seek private instruction in addition to their classes at the middle and high schools.
“We try to help them with the sight reading since we do that a lot in school,” Hercock said.
The wind ensemble and symphonic band concert will be held on Sunday, January 15 at Rowan University at 3pm.
Band director Deb Knisely has students performing on both weekends.
“They do so much hard work to get there. They have to play all of their scales from memory for the full length of their instrument. They have to be able to sight read a piece of music that is quite difficult.”
“Some make it, some don’t. You need to show them where they can improve a little bit. For the ones who do make it, they can’t have a letdown because they have so much more to do performance-wise.”
Audition grade levels for the band also begin in middle school.
“There’s so many great things they can get from auditioning, “Knisely said. “It’s almost like practicing for a job interview. You want to try to gain your confidence each time you do something like that.”
“The kids who do make it, it reinforces their thinking that they have to do their band homework as much as they do their math homework.”
Cinnaminson will also have representatives from the chorus taking part in the concert.
“It’s always nice to see them excel,” Director of Choral Activities Stephanie Berger said. “I teach these kids year after year so we have very special relationships.”
“I feel almost parental, but very proud of their accomplishments. The students who are accepted get another level of education by working with different directors and students from all over the region.”
The South Jersey Chorus concert is as Eastern Regional High School on January 28 and 29.
The audition process for the chorus includes a solo performance, their part of a quartet and they have to sing scales.
The Junior High Chorus includes 7th, 8th and 9th grades and the Senior High Chorus includes 10th, 11th and 12th grades.
“They learn a lot of socialization,” Berger said. “We are a very small faction of the student body here. They talk about what great friendships they’ve made and how they got to work with professionals. It’s almost always a very positive experience.”
The student director of the Cinnaminson High School Choir, Wes Hopkins, will be performing for a sixth year in January with the South Jersey Choir.
“As I’ve grown I’ve had a better understanding of music. I can really learn the pieces easier. It’s just a lot of fun. I can look at a piece of music differently than I have even last year.”
Hopkins, a senior, is beyond excited for the performance this year.
“It’s absolutely fantastic. The choir conductors have been absolutely amazing these past couple of years and to have my choir conductor my final year is awesome.”
“I’ve learned so much stuff from South Jersey Choir. It really helps me have a better feel for what a choir is supposed to sound like.”
Hopkins gave us a glimpse into what the choir is working on this year.
“A lot of the pieces we are doing this year are super cool. For the South Jersey concert we are doing “Somewhere” from West Side Story. We are doing an acapella arrangement of it and it sounds beautiful.”
Hopkins had one piece of advice for younger students looking to audition for the South Jersey Choir and Orchestra.
“Just do it. The worst thing they can say to you is no. It shows you where you are as a vocalist and a musician. You can only get better from that point. You can’t get worse. I’ve grown so much as a musician learning that fact and I’m still learning.”
South Jersey Chorus – High School Ensemble: Matthew Abrams, Sean Bove, Isabel Bramhall, Margaret Harbord, Nicholas Hite, Wes Hopkins, Matthew Peszka, John Rooney, Michael Trimble and Eileen Yizzi.
South Jersey Chorus – Middle School Ensemble: Jacob Ortiz-Strauss, Brandon Rohn and Mike Smith.
South Jersey Orchestra: Evan Mariano – violin, Daniel Sokolowski – violin and Genna Goins – trumpet.
South Jersey Middle School String Ensemble: Braden Kravitz – double bass.
South Jersey Symphonic Band: Ricky Hall – alto clarinet and Ava Littlewood – alto clarinet.
South Jersey Wind Ensemble: Genna Goins – trumpet.
New Jersey All State Mixed Chorus: Matthew Abrams, Nicholas Hite, Wes Hopkins and Michael Trimble.
New Jersey All State Treble Chorus: Alexa Aulicino and Christina Gentile.
Follow Cinn City News for all the news stories in and around Cinnaminson, including exclusive coverage of Pirates sports at the high school and in-town levels. We are on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to sign up for our daily newsletter on the homepage.