Area band students qualify for All State and District honor bands


Hanceville High School’s Taylor Gable made District Honor Band, and Xander Williamsen qualified for All State Band. / Photo courtesy Steven Porter

CULLMAN COUNTY – Five area high school band students have been selected for this year’s All State Band.  Cullman High School french horn player Branson Danecker, percussionist Connor Gurley, clarinet player Tessa Adkins, and contra alto clarinet player Ashlyn Teeling, along with Hanceville High School tenor saxophone player Xander Williamsen, all qualified for the honor. 

Williamsen, who plans to pursue a career in music education, said, “I feel like I'm one step closer to where I want to be.”

Hanceville High School Band Director Steven Porter, in an email to County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette, described the All State audition process:

“The All State audition for wind instruments consists of 12 major scales, two minor scales and chromatic, all from memory.  Two etudes, a technical and lyrical, and sight reading.  Sight reading is having one minute to look at a piece of music for the first time, then perform it, with correct rhythms, dynamics, and melodic lines.  Percussion audition is three times as long, as they audition on snare, mallets, AND timpani.”

Both school’s band directors shared opinions with The Tribune on the All State Band program.

Cullman’s Christopher Smith wrote, “Being selected for the All State Band is the highest honor bestowed on individual students by the Alabama Bandmasters Association.  Our band members auditioned with hundreds of other students throughout Alabama for the very limited positions in the All State Band.  The selected students will travel to Montgomery in April to rehearse with world-renowned conductors and perform with the finest student musicians in our state.”

Porter wrote, “All State Band is one of the greatest events for students in Jr/Sr high school band.  It specifically highlights individual student achievement. It is not up to the group for the audition, it isn't up to the director.  The responsibility is solely on the student's self-discipline and determination to put in the time required to achieve success.”

Additionally, Hanceville High School percussionist Taylor Gable, Vinemont Middle School trombone player Lydia Baker and Cullman High School flute player Sara Reeves, along with the five students who made All State, qualified for District Honor Band.

Gable said, “I'm excited about District Honor Band. It's cool to meet other players across our great district.”

Vinemont Band Director Skylar King said of Baker, “As a band program we are very proud of Lydia's accomplishment and the amount of extra time and energy that she put forth on her audition. Also, to my knowledge, this is the first junior high student we have had represent our school at this event in over a decade.”

District Honor Band will take place at Russellville High School on Feb. 16.  The All State Band Festival will be in Montgomery, Apr. 19-21.

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