Chugiak shines at All State Music Festival



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From left, Chugiak High students Kennedy Kruchoski, Caleb Huntington, Mark Landon, David Stockhouse, Catherine Goolsby and Dane Breitung pose for a picture Friday, Nov. 30. Each earned first chair honors at the All State Music Festival.

MIKE NESPER

Chugiak High has some serious musical talent.

Six Mustangs earned first chair honors at the All State Music Festival on Nov. 17.

In band, Catherine Goolsby (flute), Dane Breitung (alto saxophone), David Stockhouse (tenor saxophone), Caleb Huntington (baritone saxophone) and Mark Landon (trumpet) were first chair. Kennedy Kruchoski earned first chair honors as alto II in the treble choir.

Landon’s third straight festival was just as special as the previous two.

“It was still amazing,” he said.

Landon, who was named first chair trumpet last year, said every festival is different.

“Each year has its own uniqueness,” he said.

But one aspect doesn’t change from year to year, said Breitung, who was first chair for the third consecutive year.

“It’s the same in that we all have to be incredibly musical and incredibly attentive,” he said.

Meeting new people was the highlight of her first All State experience, Goolsby said.

“It was really cool getting to play with kids from all over the state,” she said.

As a freshman, Goolsby said she was shocked when she earned first chair.

“I didn’t think it was real at first,” she said. “I thought I was going to pass out.”

Chugiak had the most All State band members with 13 and one alternate. While more Mustangs auditioned than any other school, Chugiak isn’t short on talent either, said band teacher Mike Martinson.

“We wouldn’t have 14 if we didn’t have strong kids,” he said.

Including alternates, 27 students between the two local high schools made the festival — 22 from Chugiak and five from Eagle River.

Huntington credited Mirror Lake Middle School band teacher Travis Harrington for laying a strong foundation in band for the current high-schoolers.

“He definitely started us off,” Huntington said. “His enthusiasm.”

Martinson shares the same attitude at the high school level, Stockhouse said.

“He encourages us to audition,” he said. “He really hopes that everybody makes it.”

This marked Kruchoski’s second festival but first for choir. She participated in the band last year.

Kruchoski said it was difficult to compare her two All State experiences.

“You’re musically advancing one way in band and one way in choir,” she said.

The festival brings together Alaska’s top high school musicians, Huntington said, which was his favorite aspect of the event.

“It’s everyone who’s the best in the state,” he said.

The ability of each participant is evident during the first warm-up, Kruchoski said.

“This is what happens when so many people with so much talent get together,” she said.

Breitung agreed.

 

“It’s the best in the state doing their very best,” he said. “That’s what makes it an incredible experience.”

 

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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