Byron music students earn all-state honor


BYRON – Five Byron Music Students were selected to participate in the 2020 Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) All-State Festival. 

The Festival will take place on Jan. 29-Feb 1, in Peoria.  ILMEA sponsors District and All-State competitions for the State of Illinois. Illinois is divided into nine districts. Byron is located in District 8, which includes the Western edge of the North-West Chicago suburbs, to the Mississippi River, and from the Wisconsin border down to I-88.

 The process begins when students prepare an audition for the District Festival. Students in band prepare an etude, scales and they will sightread at the audition. Students in choir prepare 2 pieces of music and also have to perform scales and sightsinging at the audition. The students audition for a judge, by themselves, and are scored out of 100 points.  From these scores the ensemble is selected.  Top scores from each section are selected for the District ensembles, approximately 2000 students audition for the district band, orchestra, and choir ensembles. 

After the District Festival, the student scores are then looked at again. In band and orchestra top players are chosen from each instrument. Once down at state the instruments will need to audition again for their place in the All-State or the Honors All-State Band or Orchestra. In choir, the top 8 scores from each voice part are chosen to attend the All-State festival.  The highest four scores are placed in the Honors All State ensemble and the next four scores are placed in the All-State ensemble. The All-State music experience is unlike any other musical experience these students will have.  Top musicians from across Illinois come together and prepare a concert of challenging music in less than three days.  It will be an experience these kids will never forget.

This year Byron also had a student prepare a nomination for the Future Music Educators Seminar. In an effort to identify and encourage potential future music educators into the profession, ILMEA has created this forum for high school students at the annual Illinois Music Education Conference: selected students will be mentored and exposed to various aspects of the profession. This pre-professional opportunity is a strong first step toward a career as a music educator. There were a maximum of 55 students selected to participate in the Seminar.

The five Byron musicians who qualified for the All-State Ensembles this year are:

Ryer Christian is a junior who is in both Concert Band and Symphonic Band. His parents are Brad and Julie Christian.  He made it into the All-State Band after sitting first chair Tuba at the District Festival. Christian is thinking about an Accounting/Mathematics Major, possibly at Illinois State University, and he is interested in playing in their band.  He has been a part of Byron’s Band and Basketball team. Hiss thoughts on making All-State are: “I am really happy and a bit overwhelmed.  I’m just glad I have the chance to make my family proud.” Christian’s favorite memory of band is the card games that took place huddled up on the bleachers before halftime performances.

Hope Cornett is a junior who was selected to the Future Music Educators Seminar. Cornett is in Concert Band and Chamber Choir. Her parents are Tisha and David Cornett. She plans to go to college for music education. In high school, she is very active in Theater, Band and Choir. Cornett’s thoughts on making the Future Music Educators Seminar are: “I’m so excited for the opportunity to go to All-State. This is going to be an incredible opportunity to learn more about the career I plan on pursuing. I’m honored to have been selected to participate in such a fantastic event.” She describes her favorite moment from band, “Every time that I go to my band director’s elementary school classroom to help with the kids. Those kids make every day so memorable, I don’t think I could pick a specific memory. But when I’m with them, everything just feels right. It’s like I know that I’m supposed to be in a classroom with these kids while they learn and enhance their music skills.” Her favorite memory from choir is when we were recording performances for television her freshman year, and she remembers looking around at everyone when we had a break. The girls were all fixing their dresses and hair, and the boys were all joking around with each other.  She couldn’t help but think about how lucky and grateful she was to be there, making beautiful music with beautiful people.

Nathaniel Dyck is a junior who is in both Concert Band and Symphonic Band. Dyck’s parents are Bryan and Raina Dyck. He made it into the All-State Orchestra on French Horn, sitting 2nd chair at the District Orchestra Festival. His future plans are to keep investing time in music, graduate high school, and try out for Drum Corps International (DCI). Dyck keeps himself busy with band, jazz band, and basketball. His thoughts on making All-State: “I’m so beyond exited for all of my hard work paying off and I can’t wait to learn and make memories while at All-State. I’m thankful for those who supported me and who continue to support me along this journey, and for those who push me to reach my full potential.” His favorite memory from band is playing a pep rally song so loud it shattered the basketball backboard in 8th grade.

Isaac Mondello is a sophomore in Chamber Choir and Symphonic Band. His parents are Jason Mondello and Mellissa Mondello. Mondello will sing Bass 1 in the Honors All-State Choir. He scored as number one in the District Choir Baritone Section so that gives him an automatic selection into All-State. His future plans are to attend college, but he is undecided on his major.  Isaac has participated in Cross Country, Basketball, and Track. He has been involved in both Band and Choir and he is looking forward to being in Student Council next year. Mondello’s thoughts on making All-State are: “Honestly it was just a huge shock, but I’m so excited to get to be a part of the program. I think that all the hard work I put in paid off.” His favorite memory of choir is making All-State this year, just because it showed that I was having huge success with the class and it made me really happy and excited to continue.

Jaidyn Newton is a sophomore who is in Chamber Choir. Her parents are Dianna and Seth Newton. She made it into All-State Choir as an Alto 1. Her future plans are to go to college after high school, but she is undecided on her major. She has been involved in Track, Speech Team, Chamber Choir, Treble Choir, Volleyball, BTT Shows, and a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her thoughts on making All-State: “I am very happy I made All-State! Although I was very surprised at the news, I am so excited to have this experience and I know that I am going to have a lot of fun and learn a lot of new things!” Her favorite memory of choir would have to be growing in her experience with music in general, especially since she is now singing in a new voice part than in years past. She also is happy with making the new friends that she has! She has definitely grown a lot in her musical abilities because of choir and have many new friends because of choir!

While the students are at the Festival they will attended numerous rehearsals, attend workshops, panel discussion and master classes. They also will perform a final concert at the Peoria Civic Center. They will be accompanied to the festival by their teachers, Natalie Haas, band director, and Amy Harn, choir director. The students are grateful for the financial support from the Byron School District to make it possible for them to attend the All-State Festival.