A giant stadium, filled with musical students from all around the state, participating in one big performance, celebrating the music. This is what the All-State performance is like.
All-State is an event where students involved in music from across Illinois are selected to perform together at the Peoria Civics Center. Participants follow a rigorous audition process before being accepted. After acceptance, there were multiple practices lasting for many hours before the performance. All of these factors make this competition seem unachievable and yet, East High senior Aimee Venrooy accomplished this.
Venrooy is a passionate choir member. She has been involved in music since fourth grade, in choir since sixth grade, and joined the East choir when she transferred here this year.
“I knew coming in that she was very serious about music,” Melissa Mondello, choir teacher, said.
All-State is not a feat that many East students have accomplished.
“I haven’t had any since I’ve been teaching here. At East, not too many kids do because they don’t have the motivation,” Mondello said. “She is the first for a while.”
Venrooy approached Mondello about getting involved with All-State.
“She mostly did it on her own. I would just say I supported her,” said Mondello about her involvement with Venrooy’s audition.
While auditions used to be in person, due to Covid, they are now all online.
“Everything was virtual last year, even the festivals were,” said Mondello.
The audition process includes students recording themselves singing some set songs and also an excerpt from two songs of their choice. They were judged based on these songs and also some scales. The video was due Oct. 8.
“She did that all on her own, she recorded herself,” said Mondello.
After the long audition process, Venrooy was accepted. This began the practice. There were four practices before the performance, and they “were as long as school days” said Venrooy. Finally, on the day of the performance, Jan. 29, there was one last practice, a 45-minute dress rehearsal before the show.
The choir, band and orchestra played separately for six songs, then they all came together for the last song, “America The Beautiful.”
Venrooy said the performance was amazing because “Covid has affected the performing industry, so being able to perform to an actual audience was cool.”
Overall, she was happy she participated.
“I am so glad I did it because it was an amazing opportunity, and music is my biggest passion,”Venrooy said.
Being in a choir with people who were just as passionate about music as she was allowed Venrooy to focus on the meaning of the music, not just technical aspects.
Venrooy plans to continue her involvement with music in the future. She is currently involved in the upcoming play here at East, “¡Viva! A Royal Mexican Christmas Musical”, and is planning on pursuing music in college.
While music lies in the future for Venrooy, she hopes it will for other students as well. Venrooy would recommend students at East get involved. Currently, a lot of people at East don’t know about All-State or the District choir, a choir composed of people around Rockford, not school specific and are talented enough to make it.
“Getting involved in music is so important, it has a lot of history and is a great outlet.” Venrooy said.
“It’s definitely valuable, and I think if you go and are a part of it, even at the district level, it’s a good experience,” Mondello said, but “you have to be ready for it.”