WORTHINGTON — Three rising seniors from Worthington High School represented their school and community at Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State music camps from Aug. 5-10.
Violist Ethan Hyvari qualified for the Minnesota All-State Orchestra, which gathered on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus, while vocalists Sarah Desmith (a Soprano I in the All-State Mixed Choir) and Kalea Appel (an Alto II in the All-State Soprano/Alto Choir) met at St. Olaf College.
“Only once in the past 10 years has WHS not had at least one student qualify for an All-State music ensemble, and in that year we had an alternate,” said Kerry Johnson, WHS choir director.
“That continuity of state-level excellence speaks well for the overall ISD 518 music program, and for our students and directors,” Johnson continued.
“I’m super excited we have students who want to strive for this each year and are willing to put in the time and work to prepare and complete an audition.”
WHS orchestra director Melanie Loy assisted Hyvari, who is also active in the WHS band and choir programs, over the past few years in order to reach his goal of membership in the All-State Orchestra.
“Mrs. Loy was really patient with me,” said Hyvari. “I first wanted to try out my freshman year but didn’t even get to the point of making a recording, but last year we worked a lot together and I was named an alternate.
“And this year I got in,” he said. “Mrs. Loy helped me out and gave me great advice on what to do.”
Now, Hyvari shares a unique bond with Loy because his All-State Orchestra director — Dr. William LaRue Jones, director of orchestral studies at the University of Iowa — conducted Loy’s All-State Orchestra when she was a teenager.
“He is such an inspired teacher and professor,” said Loy of Jones. “He is an awesome conductor who inspired me in my high school years, and his leadership, training, passion and connection with students of all ages affected me positively as a teacher and musician.”
Hyvari had this to say about Jones: “For being older, he is quite the conductor, and I learned some good stuff from him.”
The All-State orchestra repertoire provided Hyvari with some musical challenges, he admitted, and the week with six hours of daily playing time grew lengthy, but Hyvari enjoyed it.
“It was a really good experience, and it’s satisfying to know I’m one of the best high school string players in Minnesota,” he said.
Hyvari is also a five-year member of the South Dakota Youth Symphony Orchestra and a three-year member of the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra. His parents are Ron Hyvari and Karrie Scholtes. Following high school graduation, he hopes to attend Concordia College in Moorhead to study music composition and viola performance.
Both Desmith and Appel were two-time qualifiers for the Minnesota chapter of the American Choral Directors Association 9/10 Honor Choirs, so it was not their first honor choir rodeo.
Nevertheless, the week-long All-State Choir camp offered new pleasures and learning opportunities to the young women.
“What I really noticed the first time I was at the 9/10 Honor Choir was how nice it was to sing in a group of people where everyone wanted to be there and really cared about making music and telling the story,” said Desmith.
“At All-State, it was even better because we were able to form relationships with the other singers over an entire week and we were living with these people — and there was never a negative interaction, everyone was so nice, and they were all about helping make it a good experience for us.”
Desmith’s Mixed Choir was conducted by Dr. Jo Ann Miller, director of choral activities at North Dakota State University, and Desmith was suitably impressed.
“She and this experience really helped me grow as a musician,” said Desmith, who cited a piece by Paul Ayres entitled “The Isle is Full of Noises” as her favorite of the seven selections her ensemble rehearsed.
“I loved it because the words were taken from the text of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest,’” Desmith explained.
While Desmith, the daughter of Brenda and Kevin Desmith, remains unsure about her college plans at this time, she is considering education as a possible career. Like Hyvari, Desmith is also involved with band and orchestra at WHS.
In the All-State Soprano/Alto Choir, Appel was under the tutelage of Dr. Therees Hibbard, an associate professor of music and choral conductor at St. Olaf College.
“I loved her,” affirmed Appel. “She was so fun and really sweet, and I liked her approach to music and all the different things she had us do.”
For instance, Appel said Hibbard incorporates “a lot of movement” into the process of mastering music.
“Our morning rehearsals each day were actually in the college’s dance studio,” said Appel. “It really helps to move as you’re learning songs because it puts you more in touch with the music.”
Appel said she appreciated every aspect of the All-State Choir camp.
“It was amazing, and I didn’t want the week to be over,” she said, mentioning that her favorite piece was “Song of Miriam” by composer Elaine Hagenberg due to its lovely lyrics.
The daughter of Troy and Kristin Appel, Appel is also a member of the WHS orchestra. She is still narrowing down her list of college options but would like to pursue an arts-related major of some type.
Exciting moments lie ahead for these skilled student musicians; they will reunite with their respective ensembles for a concert during the annual mid-February MMEA conference at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Orchestra Hall will be a brand-new experience for both Hyvari (who has the extra chance to join his All-State Orchestra peers for a side-by-side performance with the Minnesota Orchestra there on Oct. 19) and Appel, but Desmith was there once before when her older brother Matt, a 2017 WHS graduate, performed as part of an All-State choir.
“I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity,” said Desmith, echoing the thoughts of her peers as she reflected on her All-State week.
“Ms. Johnson and all of our music educators are so supportive of their students, and it’s great that our school and administration supports them, as well.”
The directors, in turn, recognize the value of students’ All-State appearances, both for them as individuals and also for how their appearances enhance their local ensembles.
“Ethan is a different player returning from All-State, and I’m excited for him as he looks ahead to college,” said Loy.
Added Johnson, “Regular representation from WHS in All-State music groups means there is regular ambassadorship from our school and city, and Worthington is incredibly fortunate to have parents and school administrators who support students’ musical interests.
“Obviously it takes a lot of determination and talent to make it to the All-State level.”
WHS senior Kip Jenson was named an alternate in percussion in 2019 to All-State Band.