Rachel and Joseph Schulte represented Milbank at the 3rd Annual South Dakota Middle School All-State Orchestra held in Mitchell from February 22 through February 23. Joe was 5th chair and Rachel 11th chair, 1st violin. The young musicians earned their places with the top 32 middle school violinists in the state.
Following the contest, Rachel said, “I enjoyed playing challenging pieces and working with other kids. Orchestra is more fun than doing Suzuki violin at home. There are so many different kinds of sounds in an orchestra!” Rachel also reported, “The conductor was nice, easy to follow, and encouraged me to keep playing with the possibility of earning college scholarships for violin.”
Joe said, “I enjoyed hearing the high school honors orchestra.” Joe was also intrigued by the communication from South Dakota composer Wehrspann as they rehearsed her piece Breath. She composed the piece in honor of a friend who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
The all-state orchestra’s conductor was Bethany Amundson, director of bands and instrumental music at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell and conductor of the Lyric Wood Orchestra. (The Lyric Wood Orchestra also rehearses and performs a concert every August at the Abbey of the Hills.)
The all-state orchestra event was held in conjunction with the South Dakota String Teachers Symposium, which was attended by the twins’ mother, Elizabeth Schulte. Elizabeth, a violin studio teacher in Milbank, said, “I came away from the conference inspired to continue to develop strings here in Milbank. The session on cello pedagogy was particularly helpful, as I haven’t taught the cello in 20 years!”
Schulte commented, “Being able to connect with other string teachers in the state helps me not feel quite so alone out here in Milbank. Particularly inspiring was a session by Harmony South Dakota. The free program serves disadvantaged students in Sioux Falls by providing them with snacks, games, a string instrument for lessons and orchestra, and choir every day after school. The program is funded entirely through donations and grants.”
The next stop on the Schulte’s musical tour is All-State Band next week in Huron. Joe will play baritone and Rachel will play clarinet.
Submitted Photos: Joe, Elizabeth and Rachel Schulte