All-state band taps THS trio
Students are fist-ever Chieftains to be selected
Three Tonganoxie High band members made school history when they were selected to the Kansas Music Educators Association 1A-4A All-State Band.
Senior Ryan Wolfe, and juniors Rex Hancock and Ryan Brammer became the first THS students to ever make the prestigious band.
To put the honor into perspective, 6,000 students tried out for the state auditions January in Salina. Only 500, or 8.3 percent of the field, were selected.
The three THS students will perform March 1 at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center in Wichita as part of the KMEA State Music Convention.
"I was amazed," Wolfe said. "Making history at Tonganoxie is amazing. It's like winning the lottery."
Wolfe will be the 21st chair out of 24 clarinets. He has been playing clarinet since the sixth grade.
More impressively, he's a 'doubler,' meaning he plays two instruments - clarinet and alto saxophone - for the THS band.
"I'm so proud of him," Tonganoxie band director Charles VanMiddlesworth said of Wolfe. "Just to get into the clarinet section in the all-state band is tough to do. I think there were about 300-something odd clarinets in the competition. And they only took 24 for that band."
Wolfe said he would major in music in college and hopes to become a music teacher and travel the world playing and conducting. He will attend Kansas University next fall.
Hancock remarkably made first chair percussion in the all-state band.
"I was very surprised," Hancock said. "I would have been happy just to make it, but being first chair blew my mind. I've never performed in anything as prestigious as this."
Hancock has been playing percussion for six years. He said he'd like to attend Kansas City Kansas Community College to study music.
"I'm really looking forward to this experience," Hancock said. "It's a good thing to put on your college application; probably one of the best things you can put on there. This is what I want to do with my life - maybe teach students on the side as a private teacher - but the main thing would be performing."
Brammer made second chair tenor saxophone in the all-state band. KMEA only chose two tenor sax players in the state for the concert. Brammer was one of them.
"Ryan is an extremely hard worker," VanMiddlesworth said of Brammer. "He's really set his sights on getting this spot in the band. He came out victorious."
Brammer has been playing saxophone for five years. He said the key to standing out in his audition was confidence.
"I listened to a lot of people and they all sounded pretty good, but you just have to go in there with the mentality that you're better than them," Brammer said.
David Holsinger will conduct the concert in Wichita. Holsinger is a graduate of Kansas University, Central Methodist University (Mo.) and the University of Central Missouri.
"I know that every time kids get a guest conductor, it's a totally new experience," VanMiddlesworth said. "As a music educator, I want that. I want each kid to get as much experience as they can. I am perfectly happy sitting out in the audience listening."
Band extra: The THS band has already received awards this academic year. THS performed in the Baker Marching Festival and earned a 2 rating.
THS also performed in the Neewollah Festival in Independence. It received a 1 rating, the best rating a band can receive, on the parade competition, and a 2 rating on the field show competition.
The THS band will have its Evening of Jazz Concert on April 8 and perform in the state large group competition on April 16.