Tips for All-State?

November 12, 2018, 9:27 PM · Does anyone have experience in any of the allstate symphonies? I will be headed to NYSSMA New York at the end of this month.

How do these festivals in terms of rehearsals differ from all-county?

Replies (8)

November 12, 2018, 11:14 PM · I don't know anything specific about New York All-State but don't they publish a rehearsal schedule in advance?

If you're wondering how the quality of the experience compares, I would assume that the level of playing in All-State would be quite a bit higher and therefore the rehearsals more enjoyable and less frustrating. Most likely the conductor will have a bigger career than what you might see at an All-County orchestra.

Here in Texas, the top Region orchestras typically get local (ish) university orchestra conductors with the lesser orchestras getting well-regarded high school directors. The All-State Orchestras get professional conductors or at least the top one does--the year my oldest son was in the top All-State orchestra, they had Carl St. Clair.

November 13, 2018, 7:22 AM · Brrrr! Rochester, NY in December. Take warm clothes!

The New York State School Music Association publishes a 600 page manual as guide. ( https://www.nyssma.org/ ) On line it appears the festival lasts for 4 days.

My experience with an All-State orchestra is ancient: Maryland as a violinist in 1950 and as a cellist in 1951. Those who went from my high school practiced playing the music with our own school music leader at least several times before taking the bus trip to Baltimore. All-State coincided with a state-wide teacher convention that formed the bulk of our concert's massive attendance.

At All-State we rehearsed with a local (Baltimore) school music director all day on the 3 days before the concert. We were bused from our hotel to the rehearsal location and finally to the concert venue (there was no day-light spare time that I can recall).

I don't recall who conducted our final rehearsal and concert in 1950, but in 1951 it was the well-known composer, Leroy Anderson. Maryland's population has more than doubled since then so their All-State may be quite different than it was back then. (New York's population has only increased 25% during the same time.)

The bulk of the student musicians at our all-state were from Baltimore, by far the largest city in the state and the home of the Peabody Conservatory. The level of the Baltimore string players (at least of the concertmaster) was definitely higher than that of us from the "sticks." I imagine that if NYC students participate in the NYSSMA there will be a similar situation. But even we from the sticks could play the music (including the Brahms symphony) to good account.

I can still see in my mind's eye the stage, rest of the orchestra, and the huge audience of that final concert --- and the room at the Baltimore hotel where they "warehoused" the dozen of us male students from Frederick High School.

November 13, 2018, 8:22 AM · I did Maryland All-State in 1975-1977, and at that time the majority of the students were (like me) from Montgomery County and members of the Montgomery County Youth Symphony. Baltimore and suburbs were the second largest contingent.
November 13, 2018, 8:33 AM · I lived in Takoma Park and Rockville (Montgomery County) from 1956 - 1962.
November 13, 2018, 9:05 AM · Thanks.
Edited: November 13, 2018, 10:15 AM · All-State is not necessarily better than the best Region orchestra, depending on the scheme for choosing who goes to All-State.

When I was a kid in Illinois, the Chicago 'burbs had a much better Regional orchestra than All-State. That's because the kids studying the violin in Chicago had top-notch teachers and serious support for their musicianship. Whereas in rural downstate, without much in the way of professional teaching, the kids were much less accomplished. All-State was determined by sending the top X kids from each Regional audition to All-State, and then there was another audition at All-State itself.

You'd basically get an All-State seating pattern where the Chicago-environs kids would have all the front chairs, occasionally peppered with a kid from another region, and then the downstate kids would float at the back. (Indeed, it was close enough that the All-State seating for violinists was basically identical to the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra seating, with the rest of the kids behind that block.)

Edited: November 13, 2018, 10:28 PM · Hi! I'm from Buffalo, NY, so I've got experience with All-State and ECMEA!

First, NYSSMA has two festivals: Area All-State, which is the Western New York region (I think it's Erie/Niagara counties, but goes as far out as Saratoga Springs, Oneonta, and Elmira.) Then there's actual Conference All-State, which encompasses the entire state (self-explanatory) and happens at the end of November, usually at the Radisson hotel in downtown Rochester.

It's a bit different than ECMEA or NCMEA (Erie and Niagara counties, respectively) because the competition is a LOT tougher, and the music is a lot tougher as well, since the level of playing is generally higher.

As far as seating, I don't know much because I never made it into All-State. I switched from violin to oboe in 9th grade, so I wasn't quite good enough for All-State. I did get into the ECMEA orchestra on English horn, though.

My guess is that rehearsals will be several hours long, for two days, and you'll definitely get a break/meals not included. Best to bring your lunch. Area All l-State is happening this weekend, but Conference will be the last weekend of this month.

If you're going to conference, I HIGHLY recommend going to the showroom and looking around at the vendors, and trying the isntruments, even for fun! I had a blast when I went (as a college student, for my B.M.E. degree) because I was able to test out mostly everything. The only thing I forgot was my clarinet mouthpiece.

I also recommend going to some of the seminars if you can! Get to know people, and ask lots of questions! They have seminars on music education, some performance, and other practical subjects.

Hope this helps!

November 15, 2018, 10:06 AM · I went to Washington all-state two years ago and we had a fantastic conductor from out of state. it was basically three days of 10+ hour rehearsals with some time in between for eating, and then we performed. seating was really arbitrary, I ended up in first violin a few seats in front of the concertmaster of my local youth symphony and some fantastic players ended up towards the back of the seconds. it was a good experience, though I was exhausted afterwards. just make sure you really know your part ahead of time and take care of yourself so that you don't get any injuries and can stay awake and attentive during rehearsal.


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