Bearden musicians excel in All-East auditions despite Covid-19 protocols

All-East is the premier auditioned honor band and orchestra for East Tennessee. Student musicians partake in an extensive audition, and then their scores are added up and ranked among all other auditioning students from East Tennessee.

Musicians are then divided between blue (the top students) and red for the band, but the orchestra only has one group.  

In a normal year, All-East musicians travel to Gatlinburg to learn, practice, and perform an entire concert in one weekend with their blue or red group. Additionally, the top scorers in All-East for each instrument group qualify for All-State and earn the privilege of graduating with distinction. Those who qualify for the All-State band come together in Nashville for four days to perform a concert in a similar style to All-East.

The All-East auditions took place on Feb. 4, and results were posted Feb. 18.

But, just as everything else, All-East has been altered from the norm due to Covid-19. There was a trimmed down audition, and both All-East and All-State conferences were cancelled, but some students are still holding on to the hope that there might be an All-State performance.

Despite Covid-19 changing the landscape of All-East, Bearden had a great showing with many auditioning and 29 students making it for band, and nine students making it for orchestra. Senior orchestra player JP Givens was one of the Bearden students who made All-East, and Givens placed 8th chair for cello. 

“I’m a little discouraged about the changes due to Covid,” Givens said. “I feel a little less proud of my accomplishment because it was an online audition, and I was able to do many takes as opposed to one singular take at a live audition.”

Although disappointment in missing all that All-East normally entails is a shared sentiment, other emotions have also been prevalent among those interviewed, including gratitude and understanding.

“I’m very grateful that we were still able to audition and receive chair placement, and I’m excited for anything else to come,” senior clarinet player Anna Hutchinson said. 

Hutchinson placed 8th chair in the blue band for clarinets and also qualified for All-State.

Senior cellist Grayson Maryanski placed 11th chair.

“I am just glad that I got the honor in making the orchestra,” Maryanski said.

Senior flutist Aliza Blackmon placed first in the blue band and additionally qualified for All-State, her fourth consecutive year qualifying.

“I’m still continuing my role as a leader within our band program,” Blackmon said. “I love getting to mentor younger musicians and help them discover the same love for music I hold so dear.”

While changes were important this year to maintain safety in relation to Covid-19, many seniors still hope that future grades will eventually be able to experience the normal process.

“The changes for All-East this year have been completely necessary, but I’m hoping that underclassmen will get a chance to experience the full process and its rewards in the coming semesters,” Hutchinson said.