Trio of Hampton musicians performs at All-State Festival
Think of bassoonist Maura Kardasz, clarinetist Elise Orban and violist Hannah Johnstonbaugh as state champions among musical athletes.
All are 17-year-old juniors at Hampton High School.
“They deserve some recognition,” said Amanda Kardasz, Maura Kardasz's mother.
Each of the girls survived months of auditions to perform at the 2015 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Festival, held March 25 through 28 at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center in Dauphin County.
“It's a tremendous accomplishment,” said Chad Himmler, band director at Hampton High School.
Beginning last October, the three students separately survived successive tryouts for district, regional and state ensembles to perform at the PMEA festival.
“All three are excellent musicians and practice very diligently, combined with good, natural talent,” Himmler said.
Each of the girls' musical instruments requires deft finger work, but the bassoon and clarinet also demand that a player know exactly how to press one's lips and tongue against each instrument's mouthpiece.
“They both have finger work to do … but the harder part of playing their instruments resides with the embouchure,” said Himmler, using the musical term for the oral gymnastics that go into playing a wind instrument.
In Hershey, Orban performed in the all-state concert band led by guest conductor and composer Brian Balmages, director of instrumental publications for FJH Music Company Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Their final concert included “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Kardasz and Johnstonbaugh both performed in the all-state orchestra, led by guest conductor John Devlin, music director and conductor of the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra and Youth Orchestras of Prince William in Virginia.
During the three-day festival, a handful of state ensembles rehearsed with as many guest conductors for final performances.
The all-state orchestra performed, among other works, “Infernal Dance” from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky and “Academic Festival Overture” by Johannes Brahms.
“All the people are talented, so you are playing with the best people in the state,” Johnstonbaugh said about the festival experience. “The conductors you work with also are very accomplished.”
Kardasz described the state music festival as being a lot of fun. “You get to see so many great musicians,” she said.
Orban enjoyed the camaraderie. “You make new friends,” she said.
All three practice every day, and all take lessons with private instructors.
Kardasz, the daughter of Robert and Amanda Kardasz of Hampton, studies the bassoon with Alicia Whitney.
Orban, the daughter of Susan and Jerry Orban of Hampton, studies the clarinet with Kristin Himmler. Johnstonbaugh, the daughter of Bob and Judy Johnstonbaugh of Hampton, studies the viola with Olga Taimanov.
Kardasz, also a drum major in the Hampton High School Band, plans to major in music education when she goes to college and want to become a high school music teacher.
Neither Johnstonbaugh nor Orban plan careers as professional musicians, but both expect to play their instruments in college ensembles.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.