Ensemble performance at Bend High School. PHOTO BY OLIVIA NIETO
Ensemble performance at Bend High School. PHOTO BY OLIVIA NIETO
Seven Sisters musicians worked with their accomplished peers from across the region in a district meet earlier this month.

For 20 years Central Oregon Music Education Association (COMEA) has hosted an annual district meet at Bend High School.

The experience consists of nine hours of ensemble practice, spanning over two days, to culminate in a final performance on the last day. The production featured guest conductor Diane Soelberg and combined students from nine different schools in Central Oregon.

More than 120 high school players attended this event, seven of whom came from Sisters High School. It was a compilation of kids with differing ages, outlooks, and musical levels.

However, all of the attendees agreed that, no matter their experience level, the workload was intense. Nevertheless, the enjoyment felt throughout the practice outweighed the discomfort.

“It was a ton of work but it was just amazing that all of these high-schoolers who had never played with each other sit down and make beautiful sounds,” said freshman trumpet player Ian Landon.

The goal of this event was to introduce young musicians to something that may have been out of their comfort zone, in order to learn new things.

“They all grew so much,” said Sisters Band Director Kayla Golka, “especially in confidence.”

The students that attended were thankful for the experience, however challenging it may have initially been.

“I was super nervous at first, because I’ve only been playing clarinet for a year,” said sophomore Althea Trask, “but then I realized how many people of different musical levels were there, and I was like… ‘Oh, not everybody is perfect, I think I can do this.’”

With such a large collective of young and hardworking musicians, remarkable things were to be expected.

“The growth between the first time they played together and their final polished performance was insane,” said Golka.

At the end of the second day, the musicians held one large concert featuring five songs. Fifteen sections of instruments, over 120 people in total, sat down together and gave an astounding performance.

All participants agree they discovered many new techniques and skills, and would return again next year.

“It was intense and difficult,” said Trask, “but I just love music, so it was definitely worth it.”