All-State first-chair cellist Kuzma leads Coronado’s top musicians
Led by cello first chair Veselka Kuzma, five Coronado High musicians earned All-State honors this year.
It was the second straight year as All-State first chair for Kuzma - essentially marking her as the best high school cellist in Colorado - and her third year being chosen for the roughly 150-member elite orchestra.
Also making the group were Aubrey Yeh, viola; and Rhonda Wilkinson, viola (both repeat selections); as well as Anna Morris, bassoon; and Ben Wolf, bass trombone. All but Wolf are seniors. The All-State Orchestra played a concert at CU-Boulder's Mackey Auditorium in February.
“These are all top notch students,” CHS orchestra teacher Mindi Loewen said of her five selectees. “They're always prepared for performances and rehearsals.”
Loewen was especially complimentary of Kuzma, saying that she “plays beyond her years… She doesn't just play the black and white music. She gives something extra that adds color and dimension to the music so that there's a very mature sound.”
Loewen will also miss Kuzma's orchestra leadership. She invariably shows enthusiasm for new music, looking for ways to play pieces better and helping other students do the same, Loewen said.
Kuzma has been accepted at Colorado University (CU)-Boulder, where she plans to be a music major, with a performance emphasis. She said her eventual music goal is to play in a “professional string quartet” (which also includes two violinists and a viola).
She tells a funny story about how she got into playing the cello. Her mother loved the instrument and initially wanted Kuzma's older brother to play. But he had an activity conflict, “so she moved down to me,” she laughed.
Morris started early (age 3, Suzuki violin lessons) later switching to woodwinds. She regularly plays clarinet, flute, oboe and sax, picking up the bassoon two years ago. Her reaction to making the All-State Orchestra? “It was really cool to play with people who are really good.”
Morris hopes to go to the University of North Texas, which is known for its woodwinds program. Like Kuzma, she seeks a music degree with a performance emphasis.
Yeh also plans to major in music, but with an education emphasis. “People think I'm crazy, but I want to teach middle school,” she said. “I've had some experiences that convinced me I'd like teaching.” She hasn't decided yet, but said she is “leaning” toward CU-Boulder.
Wilkinson, who also is considering a music-teaching career, took piano lessons when she was 5 years old. She switched to viola in her fourth-grade orchestra class. She also is considering CU-Boulder, where she would pursue the same kind of degree as Yeh.
Wolf, the only underclassman among the Coronado selections, described his All-State selection and the February concert as a “real good experience.” He's been playing trombone since grade school, switching in recent years to bass. It requires more air than the regular trombone, he pointed out, but “I like the sound and it's easier to play.”
The CU Music Department organizes the annual All-State program, in which high school instrumentalists send in tapes of assigned musical pieces. The department's instructors use the tapes to choose the All-State brass and woodwinds. String musicians have an additional step: playing a live audition to determine chair placements, the students explained.
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