Despite COVID, young musicians shine

Posted 12/22/21

Every year students across Rhode Island audition for the Rhode Island Music Educators' Association All-state Ensembles. 

This year eight Cranston students were chosen for Senior All State and …

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Despite COVID, young musicians shine


Every year students across Rhode Island audition for the Rhode Island Music Educators' Association All-state Ensembles. 

This year eight Cranston students were chosen for Senior All State and 10 students from Cranston were chosen for Junior All State from Cranston. 

Cranston Public Schools Music Department Supervisor Emily Johnson explained that the students interested in auditioning are required to independently learn with their school or a private teacher a piece chosen for their instrument by RIMEA. 

Johnson said the students must be sponsored by a RIMEA member, and be enrolled in their school's music ensemble.  

“The students then audition for a RIMEA adjudicator.  Students are scored and ranked, and the top students are chosen for all state ensembles,” said Johnson. “ In previous years the audition was in person, however, the last two years it has been by video submission.”

Like just about everything else the pandemic has caused challenges for the music world. 

“One of the biggest challenges came last year during hybrid learning. There is no physical way for a group of people to sing or play together online and hear each other in time because of audio latency,” said Johnson. “ Much of our learning comes from listening to peers as we perform and learning how to fit in and adjust.  Our music teachers, myself included, would sing and play the music for our students -- who performed along while muted.  It was very difficult for students and teachers both to be so isolated, when music making is and should be collaborative.”

One of the students who earned All State honors was Eve Grady, a junior at Cranston East. Grady said that she decided not to audition last year because it was all online. 

“I am very excited to be a part of All State this year. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to perform in person again, and I really look forward to our performance,” said Grady. 

Despite being back in person for school, Johnson said that things still aren’t completely back to normal. 

“Now that we are back in person, we have taken additional precautions for our music students, following the recommendations of the NFHS aerosol study out of the University of Colorado, including masking, distancing, and timing.  In spite of our rehearsals looking a bit different than they were two years ago, it has been wonderful to make music with our kids in person again,” said Johnson. “Many of our musicians' skills had plateaued during the past 18 months, and we are all doing our best to work with them to rebuild and get all of our students performing at a higher level.

Another All Stater from Cranston is Miko Lehnert, a junior at East.

Lehnert is no stranger to the All State ensemble participating virtually in concert band last year and in junior jazz and concert the year before which were shut  down right before the performances because of Covid. He also did junior concert band two years prior to the pandemic. 

“ As much as I enjoy practicing on my own, music is meant to be shared. I am so incredibly excited to be back playing with other musicians,” said Lehnert. “There is nothing quite like the intensity of all day rehearsals and big folders of music; it’s something I look forward to every year. “

The pandemic has also caused for less students to audition for All-State Johnson said, who noted that they normally have 20-30 students a year in All-State Ensembles. 

“We had a lot less students audition this year, which I think is directly due to the pandemic. I'm very proud of the number of  All State musicians we do have this year,” said Johnson.  These students persevered through the pandemic, put the time into their craft and should be proud that they are being recognized for that as All-State Musicians.   It really does say something about music in Cranston to have so many students place in the top two for their instrument.  I'm looking forward to next year where hopefully we are able to send more students to audition.

Johnson said that each All-State musician is selected to an All State Ensemble, and said that traditionally the performances are held in March which is “Music in Our Schools Month.”

Last year due to the pandemic the all state concert was virtual, but this year RIMEA is hopeful to have the performances in person. 

Johnson noted that the All-State Jazz performance is scheduled to take place on March 20 and the All State Band, Orchestra, and Choirs is scheduled on March 27. 

Cranston All-State musician selections 


Junior All State (Grades 7-9)

Nathan Arsenault - Mallet Percussion - WHills (Rank #1)

Thora Corcoran - Violin - PVMS

Liam DeRosa - Violin - CHSE (Rank #3)

Liam DeRosa - Viola - CHSE (Rank #1)

Brody Devine - Trumpet - CHSW

Caleb Dorvillier - Alto Saxophone - Bain

Caleb Dorvillier - Jazz Alto Saxophone - Bain (Rank #1)

Harrison Fisher - Trumpet - PVMS

Helena Fisher - Violin - CHSE

Evan Lei - Clarinet - CHSW (Rank #1)

Emily Marchetti - Violin - WHills (Rank #2)

Amy Zhang - Clarinet - CHSW


Senior All State (Grades 10-12)

Timothy Dietrich - Clarinet - CHSE

Tosin George - Soprano - CHSE

Eve Grady - Soprano - CHSE (Rank #2)

Erik Lee - Snare Drum - CHSW (Rank #2)

Miko Lehnert -  Tenor Saxophone  - CHSE (Rank #1)

Miko Lehnert - Jazz Tenor Saxophone - CHSE (Rank #2)

Isabel Mignano - Alto - CHSW

Evan Starr - Jazz Guitar - CHSE (Rank #1)

Christopher Trek - Trombone - CHSW

Christopher Trek - Bassoon - CHSW (Rank #2)



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