By Levi McAtee
The Maine All-State Music Festival will take place on May 17th-19th. Lincoln Academy is proud to have 14 students who qualified for the festival in both instrumental and choral music. The following are brief biographies of half of those qualifiers. The other qualifiers were profiled last week.
Senior Sammi Aho qualified for the Festival in voice. As a returning participant to the All-State Festival she said “I’ve been to All States before, and I really enjoy the passion that is all around. It’s so fun to be in a break at rehearsal and have someone who is super talented start playing piano or to have an entire lunch room of kids start singing show tunes. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect if you lump a bunch of choir and band and orchestra kids together.” Sammi plans to study education in college in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. “Though I don’t plan to continue in a career in music, it is definitely something that I am passionate about and want to continue with, maybe in a community choir.” She also believes strongly in music education. “I think the LA music program is integral to the school. The kids… involved [in music] seem more interested and passionate about the things that interest them…. My Lincoln Academy experience would have been seriously diminished had it not been for our music program. Hopefully more and more people can recognize the importance of music in schools and that can result in a long awaited Performing Arts Center.”
Jonah Daiute is a junior from Newcastle who qualified for the All-State Music Festival in voice. He has been singing since he was very young and says he owes most of his musical success to Ms. Preston, who “helped me shape my voice in a way I never knew possible.” Uniquely, Jonah found his audition to be sort of surreal, noting how after many hard weeks of preparation, it melts into history “as the door closes behind [him].” He “learned a great deal” at the Festival last year, and this year he hopes to learn “even more.” Though Jonah does not intend to pursue music directly, he plans “to go to college and then act on stage and screen for the rest of [his] life,” and is ready and willing to embrace any singing that an acting career might entail.
Lucas Steinberger is a sophomore who qualified for the All-State Festival on bass. Earlier in the year he qualified for the All-State Jazz Festival, and says that of the two, the jazz audition was more stressful. His favorite piece of music is Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, and has been known to disparage all music other than classical. Lucas lives in Nobleboro and attended the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for elementary and middle school. He credits an early violin teacher with “expanding [his] ability to listen and play by ear.” In addition to playing in the LA Wind Ensemble, Jazz Big Band, 5 O’Clock Combo, and in the pit for theater productions, Lucas participates on LA’s cross country and wrestling teams. He hopes to one day attend a liberal arts college, and did not comment on future musical aspirations, other than his plans to continue “slapping the bass.”
Junior Ethan Jones of Alna, class of 2019, also qualified for the Festival in voice. Ethan was raised in a musical family, and as a member of Lincolnaires, his musical background is primarily comprised of lessons with Ms. Preston. He says that she has “taught him a lot about vocal technique and performance,” which has clearly left a distinct impact on him, both as a singer and an actor (he played Tony in the LA fall production of West Side Story). Even though he felt this year’s All-State audition did not go as well as last year, when he also qualified for the festival, he enjoyed the experience all the same. In college, Ethan plans to study medicine and is unsure if he will continue with music, though he alluded to a little participation “just for funzies.” Fittingly, he is excited for the All-State audition because “it’s just a fun trip, and the songs are always a lot of fun to sing.” When he’s not singing or acting, Ethan enjoys playing tennis.
Rachael Schuster is a junior who, in addition to being an all-state alto singer and Lincolnaire, is active in LA’s theater program, where she has participated in plays, musicals, the One Act Festival, and the Eagle Term course “Just Off Broadway.” Before LA Rachael attended Nobleboro School, where she had the privilege of studying with LA Choir Director Beth Preston’s sister, Carol Preston, who taught music at the Nobleboro School. Rachael says of the Preston sisters that “both of them have had the most influence on the way I approached music… both affected the way that I hear and view music and its creation.” Rachael described the All-State audition as “terrifying. However, to see the support that we all had for each other was very inspiring!” Now she is “looking forward to working with my classmates and a wonderful conductor, but I’m also very excited to meet new people and celebrate our interests.” Long term, Rachael plans to study some combination of musical theater and creative writing, and, she avows, “I definitely want to carry on with music!”
Helen Newell, a senior from Damariscotta, may be the most highly-qualified All-State musician in Lincoln Academy history. While she has chosen to play violin in the All-State Orchestra, Helen also auditioned and qualified for the festival in clarinet and voice. In the winter she participated in the All-State Jazz Festival, where she qualified for the top combo. Helen credits her family (her parents Kaity and Carter Newell are well-known local fiddlers) for helping her become the musician that she is. “I grew up in a family very dedicated to music and it basically makes up most of my life. I have been exposed to a lot of traditional music as well as classical and jazz, and I never have grown tired of it.”
Helen’s musical accomplishments reach far beyond LA. She travels to Boston every Saturday to play in the New England Conservatory Prep Program’s Youth Symphony and a Chamber Ensemble, and participates locally in the Seacoast Community Orchestra, the Mozart Mentors orchestra, and the St Cecilia Chamber Choir. She also plays in the LA Jazz Band and 5 O’Clock Combo, and teaches violin lessons. Helen plans to attend Ithaca College as a music performance and music education major next year, and hopes to become a professional musician and educator. She says of her LA educators:. “Despite very limited resources, I think that Ms. Preston, Ms. Matta, and Mr. Braley deserve a lot of respect and acknowledgment for what do at Lincoln. It is hard to work against the grain and they still create a great musical experience for the students.”
Sophomore Amelia Rosko qualified for the All-State Festival in voice. She has wide-ranging musical taste, and her playlist includes “anything from classical and choral to show tunes and jazz.” Amelia sang for Ms. Anne-Marie D’Amico at Great Salt Bay School before attending LA, and hopes to go on to “minor in voice in college and continue singing past high school.” She said of the all-state audition, “it was intimidating at first, but after getting through the first piece I relaxed quite significantly.” Amelia is on the cross country and swim teams at Lincoln, and one day aspires to become a Columbia River Bar pilot, dropping from helicopters onto massive ships in order to navigate them through some of the world’s most treacherous waters. She credits Ms. Preston as her greatest musical mentor, saying that “instructors are the key to everyone’s success.”
Lincoln Academy’s final qualifier for the All-State music festival is Boyang Fan, a senior from China, who qualified in voice. Fan was not available for an interview, but Ms. Preston calls him a “talented singer with excellent range and tone.”
All 14 Lincoln Academy All-State musicians will travel to Orono on Thursday, May 17 to participate in three days of rehearsals and ensemble work with professional conductors. They will perform for the public on Saturday, May 19 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. The Choir Concert begins at 2:30 pm and the Instrumental Concert Band and Orchestra) begins at 5 pm. Tickets are available at the Collins Center for the Arts website or at the door.
Levi McAtee ’18 will graduate from LA in June and head to Bowdoin College, where he plans to study economics with a minor in dance.