Six PHS students make All-State in music

Robert Galbreath photo Six Pinedale High School students made it to the All-State Choir, Orchestra and Band this year. Pictured in front row, from left, are Zoe Griffin (band), Sabrina Donaldson (choir) and Landon Preece (choir). Standing in back, from left, are Timothy Hosler (band), Anthony Rigo (band) and Michael Vitanza (orchestra).

Only the most talented

musicians in Wyoming make it to the All-

State Honor Band, Choir and Orchestra.

Finding the hours of practice to hone this

talent can be a challenge especially for today’s

busy teens.

“The music comes out about two months

before the auditions,” said junior Zoe Griffin,

a French horn player who made it to the

All-State band for the third year in a row.

“And you practice every single day until the

auditions, at least for me. I show livestock,

so it was a big commitment trying to deal

with animals and my practicing.”

Griffin is also taking two Advanced

Placement classes, is president of the FFA

chapter and played in the orchestra for the

Pinedale Fine Arts Council’s production of

“Beauty and the Beast.”

Junior Michael Vitanza, a violin player,

landed a spot in the All-State orchestra for

the second time this year.

“I try to do as much as I can – to get in

about an hour of practice a day,” he said.

“On weekends, I usually do a couple, three

hours of practice.”

Vitanza is on the alpine ski team, and

practice started in November. Since the

sport takes up a lot of time, he plans to cram

in practice time for the upcoming All-State

performance over winter break.

Timothy Hosler, a sophomore, trumpet

player and first-timer to All-State, is involved

in golf, basketball and also played in

the “Beauty and the Beast” orchestra.

“Golf got over before I got the All-State

music, so that didn’t really interfere with

practice,” he said. “But it was still kind

of hard to find time with ‘Beauty and the

Beast.’”

As a football player, wrestler and the

male lead for the upcoming spring play, senior

Anthony Rigo also has to carve time

out for music. Rigo plays the tuba and the

trombone in jazz band and this is his first

Robert Galbreath photo

Six Pinedale High School students made it to the All-State Choir, Orchestra and

Band this year. Pictured in front row, from left, are Zoe Griffin (band), Sabrina

Donaldson (choir) and Landon Preece (choir). Standing in back, from left, are

Timothy Hosler (band), Anthony Rigo (band) and Michael Vitanza (orchestra).

year at All-State.

“Wrestling is a big time commitment,”

he said. “Whenever I’m not at wrestling

practice, or reading lines, I have to squeeze

in music practice.”

The All-State auditions are intimidating.

“My audition was definitely a little bit

nerve-wracking because it was my senior

year, my last chance to get into this ensemble,”

said Rigo.

“I missed All-State by one point last

year,” said Hosler. “So it was also very

nerve-wracking for me.”

Choir hopefuls have to sing a capella and

the judges chose some tricky passages.

“They like to do things with funky intervals

and weird timing, so that when

you’re (singing) a capella, they can make

sure you’ve got a strong melody in your

head,” said sophomore Sabrina Donaldson,

soprano. This will be Donaldson’s second

year in the All-State choir, and she sings

with the PHS choir and jazz choir, Petrichoral

– a group put together by high school

students – and the community choir. Donaldson

also acted in “Beauty and the Beast.”

“You need to have relative pitch – that’s

always helpful in the auditions – being able

to hear the notes and see them correctly,”

said junior Landon Preece, bass singer, who

is headed to All-State for the third year in

a row. Both he and Donaldson have performed

with the Honor Choir since they

were freshmen. Like Donaldson, Preece is

involved in the high school choir and jazz

choir, Petrichoral, community choir and

played LeFou in “Beauty and the Beast.”

On top of this, he accompanies the middle

school choirs on the piano and works at the

Pinedale Aquatic Center.

Finding inspiration

In addition to talent, practice and dedication,

it helps to have inspiration when

you’re a musician.

Donaldson, who “has been singing since

before kindergarten,” said she recently

found inspiration when she had the opportunity

to sing with actress and singer Kristin

Chenoweth.

“A couple weeks ago, Landon and I went

down and sang in Jackson,” Donaldson said.

“(Chenoweth) was down there, and we got

to sing with her. She was really nice and energetic.

So she turned into my inspiration.”

Preece described singing with Chenoweth

as “incredible.” Preece added that he is also

motivated by several a capella groups.

“I like Tim Faust, the bass from the group

Home Free,” he said. “I’ve also grown to

love Ave Kaplan, formerly of Pentatonix,

more. I auditioned for bass for All-State this

year because I love hearing basses and it’s

really fun. So those two singers were really

inspirational for me.”

Vitanza immediately thought of one of

the world’s most famous violinists.

“Hilary Hahn – she has great intonation

and amazing technique,” he said. “I have

a playlist and half of it’s her Bach pieces.

My favorite is probably Sonata No. 1 in g

minor.”

Hosler said he looks up to both classical

and jazz trumpet performers.

“I like Maurice André,” he said. “He

plays a bunch of classical pieces, like he did

the trumpet concerto by Hayden – that’s one

of his biggest pieces.”

Hosler performed a movement from

Hayden’s famed trumpet piece at the PHS

Christmas concert this year to a standing

ovation.

“For jazz, I like Maynard Ferguson because

he plays all those squeaky high notes,

and that’s pretty cool,” said Hosler.

Griffin gave a shout out to PHS band

teacher Justin Smith.

“Mr. Smith started me on the French

horn,” she said. “So he’s a big inspiration

for me because he got me into music. I listen

to just about everything, honestly, every

genre of music. I’m just a big music person.”

Rigo also credited his band teachers for

making him into a musician.

“My first two band teachers were actually

husband and wife back in North Carolina,”

he said. “I have to thank them because they

got me started. Mr. Smith is really who

transformed me into the best musician that

I could be. He’s part of the reason that I

would like to go into the music education

field and then come back and teach music.”

Rigo added that he enjoys listening to

jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon along

with Brahms, Mozart and Bach. Hayden

is another influence, and Rigo used one of

the composer’s sayings as his senior qoute:

“There was no one near to distract me, so I

was forced to become original.”

On Jan. 19, the six musicians from Pinedale

gather with the other students selected

for All-State and spend whirlwind

days of back-to-back rehearsals. Then each

ensemble hits the stage to perform at 7 p.m.,

Jan. 21, at Thunder Basin High School in

Gillette.

Those who are returning to All-State are

excited to go again.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all of

the people that I’ve seen in the past at All-

State,” Donaldson said. “Plus being part of

a really talented group of musicians who

really want to be there and working with really

high level conductors – it’s awesome.”

And the advice the returning All-Staters

have for new All-Staters, other than practicing,

of course?

“Make new friends, because you’ll have

them for life,” said Griffin. “It’s going to

be fun.”

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