Archived Story

FF musicians make state [UPDATED]

Published 11:00am Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Updated 11:01am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

For two students at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, a passion for music has brought one of the highest recognitions high school musicians in the state can earn.

Senior Jordan Konynenbelt and junior Brandon Doering represented Hillcrest at the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Band performance Feb. 16 at Bethel College. The honor comes after a live audition last year and three to four months of practice and music memorization.

But for two students so dedicated to music, the extra effort defines their high school experience.

Konynenbelt, who has played trumpet since the seventh grade and was also selected for the All-State Band last year, said music has been his one constant throughout his time in high school.

“Band has been one thing that I’ve done every year, so it’s something that unifies my whole experience here,” he said.

Konynenbelt also sings for the Hillcrest Choir and, as a PSEO student, has participated in the M State-Fergus Falls band program. His favorite style and group to play with has been the college’s jazz band, he said.

Participating in the All-State Band, however, has pushed his passion for music and his own abilities beyond the classroom.

“Hillcrest is a great school and I love the band here, but it’s a completely different experience playing with the best of the best,” said Konynenbelt. “So it’s definitely humbling, but it’s a really good motivator.”

Doering traveled a similar path to his participation in the All-State band. After he first played trumpet in fifth grade, Doering switched to euphonium, which he has played through high school. But ever since his start in band, music has been a major part of his education, no matter the instrument.

“If I wasn’t in band, my time at Hillcrest would be quite different,” said Doering. “I just love playing music.”

As he prepares for his senior year, Doering plans on another addition for the All-State Band. Whether he will major in music during college has yet to be decided, but playing music will always be something he would like to be involved with, he said.

The All-State honor is one of the most sought after recognitions for musicians at the high school level. According to the MMEA website, over 2,000 students across the state audition for 575 spots in different performing groups: concert and symphonic band, men’s, women’s and mix choir, and orchestra and jazz ensemble. Selected students are also invited to attend summer camps where they learn from some of the best instructors in the state.

For Hillcrest band director Steve Doering, not only is this opportunity significant for the individual musicians, but also means a great deal for the quality of the entire high school program.

“Playing with the best players from around the state and being motivated by that is a good teacher,” said director Doering, who relies on the extra experience of both musicians to bring balance and leadership to the group’s sound.

The two students will perform with the Hillcrest Band on March 11 during a judged competition and the group’s Spring Concert that follows on the same day. The challenge of performing a double-header is certainly unique, said director Doering, but is also something that, with what both Konynenbelt and Doering have helped foster, the entire group knows will show all the work they’ve put forward this year.

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