November 18, 2019
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All Star Players bring music to the community

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We all love seeing praise for jobs well-done, especially when it comes to our youth. The All-Star high school basketball team, for example, provides first-rate coverage for our state’s best players. But what about other young students who have remarkable talents in our state? It is commendable to acknowledge young musicians when their works and accomplishments include esteemed awards of high honors. As they are rarely publicized by the media, it is time for them to receive recognition in our community news.

Three such talented students have achieved some of the highest awards in our local high schools. Their discipline involves hours of isolated work. –That is, daily hours of practicing when no one is present to encourage or coach them. This is a different kind of ballgame.

Hanna Renedo of Orono is a superb violinist who was this year’s All State Orchestra concertmistress as a junior. This is the top position of the entire string section and the orchestra’s “leader of the pack”. In August Hanna will be performing as a young apprentice artist with professional musicians of the Portland Chamber Music Festival. She also played in the Arthur Russell honors quartet, was a Stillwater Community Arts Young Artist in 2012, and performed at Bay Chamber’s Next Generation Program and Kneisel Hall’s Maine Musicians Chamber Music Program for the past five years. Along with her honors in music, Hanna also holds varsity positions in soccer, Nordic skiing, tennis, track and field, not to mention awards in English, human geography, Spanish, and high honors in each year of high school, as well as a participating member of the National Honor Society. Students like Hanna are as popular on the athletic field as they are on the concert stage.

Another student who performed in the Kneisel Hall music program is senior Garrett Hale, who additionally played in multiple summer music programs since 2009. For three consecutive years, he was principal oboist in Maine’s All State Orchestra and earned prestigious placement into Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University for the coming fall. This year he placed second in the Bangor High School Concerto Competition and was a guest musician on “P.S. I Love Music” show with Grammy award-winning pianist Paul Sullivan. As valedictorian at the Schenck High School class of 2013, Garrett earned honors in English, history, science, computer graphics, foreign language, tennis, and was president of the Chinese Culture Club. Is there anything you don’t do, Garrett?

Bangor High School junior Jessica Chen has difficulty knowing her greatest artistic area of expertise as she excels at piano, violin and art. This year she won the Bangor Symphony High School Concerto Competition on piano, awarding her two performances with the orchestra on May 20th. This is a huge honor and responsibility to perform from memory with an orchestra that accompanies the featured soloist, who must play each performance with absolute precision. Shortly after winning this competition, Jessica played her violin in a master class for a renowned violinist and also performed with the BSO’s conductor, Lucas Richman, at a public event. She was also the concertmistress of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra in the 2011-12 season and has been concertmistress of her high school orchestra for two years. On piano, Jessica participated in the Kneisel Hall program where—along with Hannah and Garrett—she performed challenging chamber music works during the past four years. She also attended the Bay Chamber Next Generation Programs where she was the youngest pianist to win the Young Stars’ Chatfield Piano $1000-Prize.

All three students carry full honors and AP credit loads while handling their “private” music lives, and there are many others like them in our communities. While students in sports take the greatest coverage in our daily newspapers, it is good to know we have amazing “all star quality” performers who balance the scales. Bravo to you all. Take another bow!

By Patricia Stowell