Three students travel to Fresno for All-State orchestra


Junior Hannah Kim performs at the solo concerto competition with the Wesley Youth Orchestra. Kim was one of the three Archer students who travelled to Fresno to participate in the All-State Honor Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Kim.

Instruments in hand, Archer students Camila Blank ’24, Audrey Chung ’22 and Hannah Kim ’20 were among the selected students from all around California who travelled to Fresno from Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 to participate in California’s All-State Music Education Conference [CASMEC], hosted by California Orchestra Director Association’s [CODA]

The Archer students joined 94 other student-musicians to “promote school orchestras in California by providing quality honor orchestra experiences,” according to the official CODA website.

This is the first year that three Archer students have been accepted to the orchestra, according to Archer Orchestra Director Susan Smith.

Smith, who attended CASMEC when she was in high school, accompanied the three students to the Fresno Conference.

“I was incredibly proud of them,” she said. “It’s really competitive to get in. It’s really difficult music and the experience itself is just very meaningful. I think it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m really glad they were able to represent Archer at this event.”

Blank has been playing the violin for five years, Chung has played the French horn for five years and Kim has been playing the cello for eight years. 

Blank said she likes to perform, especially in competitions. For the audition, she was tasked with playing songs from Beethoven, Caccini and Mendelssohn.

“I was just really excited when I found out that I got in,” Blank said before the conference. “I’m really looking forward to it because I’ve never had an experience like this before. I hope we can put together the pieces.” 

This was Chung’s first time at CASMEC.  After not getting in last year, she thinks it’s “great” that she was accepted this year.

“Whoever is in a school band or orchestra gets to try out in the state of California,” Chung said. “They basically choose people from recorded auditions, and, once you get there, you have live auditions for placement and seating.”

Hannah Kim ’20 rehearses at the annual CASMEC conference. She has been playing cello for eight years.

Chung chose the French horn because of its “sound” and “versatility.” Last year, Archer had a wind ensemble, but Spanish teacher and conductor Alyssa Gogesch left the school. After Gogesch left, the wind ensemble ended. Chung now plays at the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA).

“I go to an orchestra four days a week, and I have another orchestra that’s on Sundays,” Chung said. “In total, I calculated that I spend 14 to 15 hours a week playing the French horn.”

Kim has been going to CASMEC since the eighth grade. She first participated in the Junior High All-State Orchestra and has moved onto the High School All-State Orchestra. 

“I had to audition for it and record my audition pieces. This is a state-level competition. We go and practice all day and perform on Saturday night. We are playing a fun tango song, a dramatic symphony…all fun songs,” Kim said.

The participants woke up at 6:30 a.m. every morning and rehearsed for four hours. They then had seating auditions. Following that, they attended a master class with either Symphony Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Symphony orchestra or LA Phil cellists. After that, they practiced for another five hours. 

“All-State, for me, is a culmination of all the hard work, all those years of practice and the effort I put into the cello. It’s a great honor to represent Archer,” Kim said. “It’s different from other orchestras because everyone there tries really hard to make the best quality music they can. That attention to detail — it’s a form of art. I’m so happy to be part of creating that piece of art and music with my friends.”