Texas All-State

July 7, 2023, 12:13 PM · Hi!
I am planning to audition for the Texas All-State this fall and have some questions regarding the process and level:
1. How hard is it to make it into All-State Orchestra? I've been playing for almost 10 years and my current repertoire include the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4, Bach Partita No. 3, Wienaiwski Polonaise Brilliante.
2. How does All-State work? Is it in two rounds (regional & area)?
3. Do I only have to submit the two ├ętudes/ caprices?

Replies (13)

July 8, 2023, 11:53 AM · No specific experience in Texas, just going by what I have heard, and what I know about our state (VA).

1. Texas is fairly competitive for all-state. That said, assuming you can play that repertoire well, and prepare adequately, you should be fine.

2. In VA, the kids that are selected for regionals are eligible to audition for state, so regionals, then state. Your orchestra director should be able to provide guidance.

3. You only submit what they ask you to submit. For auditions, be aware that the acoustics in the rooms may not be that great, so don't let it throw you.

Good luck!

Edited: July 9, 2023, 2:13 PM · Hi, thirty-five year violin teacher in Texas here.

1. It is very difficult to make All-State in Texas. You need to prepare the etudes and excerpts to the very highest level. There are so many good string players in Texas that it is difficult to judge the students in the middle, so there is also a small element of luck - the students at the very top will make it and the students at the bottom won't, but there are more students good enough to be in All-State than there are chairs in All-State.

2. In order to audition for All-State, you must either play in the ensemble at your public high school or, if you attend private school or are home-schooled, you must be sponsored by a TMEA member. The first step in the process is to audition for your Region orchestra. These auditions are typically in mid-October and will include excerpts from both All-State etudes. The auditions are held with numerous students in each room, so you will hear everyone else auditioning in your room and they will hear you. You will be identified by number; the judges will have their backs turned or will otherwise be unable to see/identify the students.

In some regions, making Region orchestra is sufficient to qualify you to record for All-State, but in others (Houston comes to mind), there is an additional step beyond Region in which students must compete for a limited number of spots at Area (there is no actual Area orchestra).

If you qualify to record for All-State, the recording date will be the same for all students in Texas - usually the last Saturday in October - you will be given a time and place at a high school in your area, and you will record your audition at the appointed time in a room with only you, a monitor, and the recording equipment.

You will record the etudes (excerpts from) and orchestral excerpts exactly in the order specified by TMEA, at the tempos specified, without speaking except for the final track of the recording in which you will state your name, grade, and school. There are no do-overs. If you record something slower than the specified tempo, points will be deducted.

About a week after the recording date, the judges will gather in Austin and will judge all the recordings, ranking the students from 1 to whatever, usually about 450 violinists. This judging will be on the first four tracks. The top 152 (?) will advance to the second round, when they will be judged and ranked again on tracks 5 - 8. From that ranking, the top 40 violinists will make All-State Symphony; the second 40 will make All-State Philharmonic, and the remaining 32 will make the third orchestra (can't recall the name). EDIT: Sinfonietta

If you don't participate in your Region orchestra performance (usually in December), you will lose your All-State placement (if you made it).

3. The excerpts will be announced after the TODA convention in late July. You will be required to record exactly the cuts in exactly the order specified.

You cannot generalize from any other state when it comes to Texas All-State.

July 8, 2023, 9:19 PM · Virginia has a much smaller population than Texas (30%) but there is only one all-Virginia orchestra, whereas Texas has three. Virginia also has two all-state bands and two all-state choirs. My daughter (a cellist) has participated twice.

I'm not sure what accounts for the much higher level of competition in Texas. Mary Ellen says there are a lot of string players in Texas, and she would know, since she has been teaching there for a long time. I would have expected youth accomplishment in music to track with median household income, but that's significantly higher in Virginia. State expenditure per pupil is higher in Virginia, too. West of Richmond I think relatively few districts have school orchestras. Ours doesn't. There's one in Lynchburg, I think, and at least one in Roanoke.

Edited: July 10, 2023, 8:13 AM · Anyone curious or skeptical about the All-State level in Texas can search on YouTube for TMEA All-State. Symphony is the top orchestra and Philharmonic is the 2nd. The third orchestra [Sinfonietta] used to be the String orchestra and is now a third full orchestra.

TMEA All-State Symphony repertoire in recent years has included Don Juan, Prokofiev 5, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Mahler symphonies, Rite of Spring, etc.

July 8, 2023, 9:38 PM · I think Paul was wondering, and I most certainly am wondering, how Texas is managing to produce so many good string players.
Edited: July 8, 2023, 10:31 PM · While looking for the Texas All State performances, came across this, which might help OP with his prep:

https://youtu.be/FNnRjLtb3Z0

They have also posted the other required Etude (Rode caprice #5). OP might want to take a listen.

Paul, the stats for VA are likely skewed by the few very wealthy population centers in the state.

Would you know how the audition material for VA compares to what is posted for TX? I only have access to the audition materials for the Senior Regional Orchestra auditions (For 2023-24, they're excerpts from Von Weber's Overture to Oberon, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 3rd movement). My assumption is that the All-State materials would be more difficult.

Edited: July 9, 2023, 8:21 AM · For those who wonder how it is that a state like Texas can be such a source of excellent string players:

Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Rice University Preparatory program

Strong music schools plus lots of educated faculty and staff (not just music), many of whom seek out the best opportunities for their children, at the following:
Rice University, University of Texas, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of North Texas, Baylor University, University of Houston, Texas Tech, and numerous others.

Dallas and Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan areas in the United States and both have at least one major symphony orchestra (the Dallas-Fort Worth area has two), and several smaller professional orchestras (lots of excellent and highly qualified teachers), and large populations of high income families.

San Antonio is also home to an excellent professional orchestra, many of whose members teach

A long and strong tradition of excellent string programs in the public schools in all major Texas cities.

I am surprised at the evident surprise that Texas produces a large number of extremely good string players. It would be far more surprising if we did not.

Incidentally, the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic grew up in Houston and was assistant concertmaster in the All-State Symphony as a high school student.

Editing to add that the year my son was principal oboe of the All-State Symphony, the concertmaster of that orchestra (ranked #1 in all of Texas) was from Lubbock and studied with John Gilbert who teaches at Texas Tech. Do not underestimate even the smaller music schools in Texas.


July 8, 2023, 10:24 PM · Texas has a very large population -- around 30 million -- versus Virginia's sub-9 million. So triple the population, plus numerous large cities, each of which has at least one major longstanding professional symphony orchestra. (And several decent conservatories as part of the state university system, programs like Baylor's, plus Rice at the high end, all of whom employ good faculty, many of whom also teach precollege kids) So it's logical that there would be plenty of well-trained kids.
Edited: July 9, 2023, 6:52 AM · Sue wrote: While looking for the Texas All State performances, came across this, which might help OP with his prep:

Good enough for All-State Philharmonic (2nd orchestra), maybe :D.

July 9, 2023, 7:44 AM · The Virginia site seemed to indicate there were approximately 175 violin applicants for 44 positions as of a few years ago. That is opposed to 450 applicants for 120 spots in Texas.

Now, there is more to competition than just numbers. If the top players are very skilled, than lower players will have no chance. However, I suspect that the competative level in Virginia is not substantially different than that of Texas.

Edited: July 9, 2023, 8:32 AM · 112 spots in Texas. The third orchestra has smaller violin sections. I have had students who made the second violin section in the third orchestra who would have been at least in the middle of the firsts in many other states. I realize it can be hard to believe for those who may think of Texas as a cultural backwater, but the level of the best players here is extremely high and there are a lot of them. Texas is a big state.

2023 All-State ensembles:
Symphony https://youtu.be/FCqHMBDptYM
Philharmonic https://youtu.be/-YYlLV7XjIA
Sinfonietta https://youtu.be/qMrszohoCO0

Edited: July 9, 2023, 9:31 PM · Mark, even if Virginia could potentially hold its own in the strings at the highest level, I bet the level of the winds and brass is higher in Texas. Seemed like half the junior wind and brass groups at the Fischoff were from Texas.
July 10, 2023, 4:54 AM · I did not mean to derail the thread. I would agree that Texas all state is difficult to get into. (I also think certain other states are difficult as well. Texas may be more difficult.)

The level of performance by the Texas All-State symphony was very high.

I agree with the comment about brass winds. Texas has very strong programs with roots in marching bands.

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