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Musicians earn All-Northwest accolades

November 17, 2012
Northwest Montana A Conference


Musicians earn All-Northwest accolades

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 9:00 pm | Updated: 3:51 pm, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

Eight Northwest Montana students have been selected to perform in the All-Northwest band, orchestra or choir.

One band student, three orchestra performers and four vocalists were accorded All-Northwest honors, placing them among top high school musicians in six states.

Local honorees are Brittany Barnes, Whitefish High School, orchestra; Julia Cecil, Glacier High School, orchestra; Dani Crandell, Glacier High School, band; Christian Diaz, Glacier High School, orchestra; Maddy Dugdale, Whitefish High School, mixed choir; Matthew Erhart, Columbia Falls, mixed choir; Brenden Kack, Libby High School, mixed choir; and Ian Ricketts, Polson High School, mixed choir.

Thousands of students from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming submitted auditions for the All-Northwest groups, which are sponsored by the Northwest Division of the National Association for Music Education.

All-Northwest participants will meet in Portland Feb.14-17 to rehearse and performing in concert under the direction of world-renowned conductors.

Participating in honor groups such as All-Northwest allows musicians to challenge themselves in new ways and take their skill levels up a notch, Whitefish High School Music Director Jenanne Solberg wrote in an email to The Daily Inter Lake. Many professional musicians credit their All-Northwest experience as crucial in their decision to choose music as a career.

 “These students demonstrate how a solid work ethic and commitment to excellence can reap tremendous rewards,” Solberg said.

The exposure to musicians from other states and practice with “high-literature” music is a life-changing experience for most students, she added.

“Suddenly, there are a host of opportunities perhaps never imagined. And for these young people, being recognized for excellence (over 5,200 applicants, and those selected represent the top 10 percent) not just in their own backyard but in the scope of the bigger picture, is a statement of validation that indeed, they are the leaders, movers and shakers, and examples to our up and coming students,” Solberg said.

 This is also one of the reasons why Libby High School Choir Director Lorraine Braun provides her students the opportunity to audition.

“One reason I have students audition for the NAfME choirs is simply to afford them an opportunity and experience to participate with and create music with other students who share the same love and integrity of quality music,” Braun said in an email.

Braun said musicians such as Kack, a senior in her concert choir, bring energy back to the classroom. 

“Without fail, Brenden will come back to Libby Concert Choir with renewed freshness and spirit, not to mention increased musicianship, that he will be able to contribute to us here in our small community,” Braun said.

 Well-known people who have participated in past All-Northwest groups include trumpeters Doc Severinson and Allen Vizzutti; David Horsey, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and columnist; jazz saxophonist Kenny G; and 2008 National Teacher of the Year Andrea Peterson.


Following are profiles of the All-Northwest musicians:

Brittany Barnes

Viola, orchestra

Age: 16

Whitefish High School

Parents: Frank and Naomi Barnes

School instructor: Jenanne Solberg

Private Instructors: Diane Dickerson and Jenanne Solberg

Honors: Two-time Montana All-State performer for viola and harp

Secret to being a top musician: “Make a commitment to excellence every day — even if it’s only five minutes!”

Activities: Volleyball, cheerleading, national anthem soloist, swimming, National Honor Society, Glacier Symphony

Post-graduation plans: Continue music in college.


Julia Cecil

Violin, orchestra

Age: 16

Glacier High School

Parents: Hugh and Denise Cecil

School instructor: Sherry Simmons

Private Instructors: Jeff and Eileen Iams

Honors: Three-time Montana All-State performer

Secret to being a top musician: “Practicing regularly is key, but also taking opportunities to work with other musicians. I found that I advanced a lot faster when I was playing in the Glacier Symphony and in various summer workshops. I also had excellent private instructors, Jeff Iams and Eileen Iams.”  

Activities: Figure skating, voice, tennis, skiing.

Post-graduation Plans: Undecided


Dani Crandell

Clarinet, band

Age: 17

Glacier High School

Parents: Scott Crandell and Deb Steig

School instructor: David Barr

Private Instructor: Dinah Weimer

Honors: Three-year Montana All-State performer; National Merit semfinalist

Secret to being a top musician: Her favorite musical moments happen when she gets to work with Weimer and Barr. "They are both such amazing, dedicated people and I owe them so much."

Activities: Varsity, concert and symphonic bands; color guard, soccer, National Honor Society, Wolfpack Leadership Club, works at Signature Theatres.

Post-graduation plans: Attend Gonzaga University next year majoring in psychology.


Christian Diaz

Violin, orchestra

Age: 16

Glacier High School

Parents: Zaboe and Cecilia Diaz

School instructor: Sherry Simmons

Private Instructors: Jackie Melvin and Jeff Iams

Honors: Two-time Montana All-State performer

Secret to being a top musician: “I practice as much as possible. In order to be a great musician you need to practice and also have a private teacher to help you expand your knowledge of music and how it is made.”

Activities: Speech and debate, Spanish Club, student mentor, orchestra.

Post-graduation plans: Top college goals are Harvard, Yale, or Stanford to be a plastic surgeon.


Maddy Dugdale

Alto, mixed choir

Age: 16

Whitefish High School

Parents: Zach and Michele Dugdale

School instructor: Nicole Sanford

Honors:Director’s Award in middle school band

Secret to being a top musician: “Enjoy it!”

Activities: STAND, Gay/Straight Alliance, band, Voce Primo Choir

Post-graduation plans: Major in music and psychology


Matthew Erhart

Bass II, mixed choir

Age: 18

Columbia Falls High School

Parents: Dwain and Denise Erhart

School instructor: Jennifer Stephens

Secret to Being a Top Musician: “Dedication, focus, heart, and practice!”

Activities: Football, wrestling, theater, Columbia Chorale and Sonifers.

Post-graduation plans: College for music performance.


Brenden Kack

Tenor II, mixed choir

Age: 18

Libby High School

Parents: Sherri and Charlie Kack

School instructor: Lorraine Braun

Private Instructor: Julie Cloyed

Honors: Montana All-State performer

Secret to being a top musician: “Listen to what the choir teacher says and be open-minded.”

Activities: Cabinet Mountain Singers

Post-graduation plans: Attend the Art Institute in Seattle.


Ian Ricketts

Tenor, mixed choir

Age: 17

Polson High School

Parents: Bob Ricketts, Tim and Connie Carte

School instructor: Dawn Matt

Honors: Four-time All-State Choir and three-time All-Northwest Choir participant.

Secret to being a top musician: “No. 1 — lots of practice and dedication, No. 2 — an open mindset and positive attitude, No. 3 — great hair.”

Activities: Football, skiing, plays percussion in band, choir, National Honor Society.

Post-graduation plans: Attend Rocky Mountain College in Billings, majoring in aeronautical science

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