BFA Students Attend All State Music Festival


Pilot DesLauriers (’22) at the All State Music Festival. Photo credit: Armand Messier

Zoe Walent, Writer

All State is a music festival for students around Vermont to play music together.  According to BFA Choral Director, Armand Messier, this year the festival took place May 5-7.

According to BFA music teacher, Eric Bushey, this year, several Bellows Free Academy’s students were invited to participate in the festival: Nicolas Paquette (’22) playing the euphonium, Ella Poston (’22) on the cello, Penelope Noza (’24) playing the clarinet, Emanuele Chiappinelli (’22) on the French horn, and Pilot DesLauriers (’22), Emily Parent (’22) and Elio Haag (’22) for voice.

In January, students auditioned and prepared a solo piece for the adjudicators, Bushey said. He added that they also had to memorize all twelve of the major scales and the chromatic scale and sight read a selection of music that they received in the auditioning room.  Students are placed in their ensembles based on their scores in the audition. There are four ensembles: orchestra, band, chorus and jazz band. 

BFA’s musicians have been through a lot over the past few years, and their commitment to music shows. 

“They didn’t just stick with music, they stuck with going above and beyond in preparing things outside of school during this whole pandemic,” Bushey said.

According to Bushey, the first All State Music Festival took place in 1928 in Burlington. BFA hosted the festival in 1983, 1995 and, most recently, 2011. 

All State is a long and intensive experience.

“We spend about 20 hours in group rehearsals, sectionals and self-teaching,” Parent said.

For a lot of these students, this was their first time participating in the festival due to the festival not happening because of the pandemic. They still took up the years they had off to practice. 

“Getting to play with so many other talented musicians was really eye opening; to be surrounded by other people who have put in the same amount of time and effort to get there is really great,” Paquette said.  He added that this was his first experience with the festival. 

It is also a great chance to make new friends and rekindle old friendships.

“Spending so much time with people, you make connections with each other. I saw friends I haven’t seen in forever, got even closer with the people I already knew and got to know complete strangers,” Parent said.