Several Gahanna Lincoln High School students will perform as part of prestigious ensembles next year, having earned spots for their musical talents.

The Ohio Music Education Association has been showcasing the top musicians in the state through student-honor ensembles for several decades, according to Kelly Shellhammer, Gahanna-Jefferson jazz bands director.

If selected, she said, students are placed in one of five OMEA All-State Ensembles.

Students are chosen through a blind-audition process, meaning their identity remains anonymous to those listening to auditions and selections are based on ability alone.

Four Gahanna students will participate in three of five All-State Ensembles.

Seniors Shaelyn O'Brien, flute, and Lennon Anderson, clarinet, have been selected for the All-State Band, and Anna Lower, junior oboist, has been selected for the All-State Orchestra.

"I thought I might as well give it a try and, if nothing else, I would have made myself a little better by working those etudes we had to audition with," O'Brien said. "When I found out I was accepted, I almost couldn't believe it. It's not often that an opportunity like this comes by, and I feel so grateful that it was offered to me."

The audition was a little different, Anderson said, because he considers All-State to be kind of the be-all and end-all of honor bands.

"It was a huge goal that I really wanted to meet my senior year," he said. "Making All-State really taught me first-hand how hard work pays off."

All-State Ensembles aren't limited to instrumentalists.

Although junior Michael Stewart plays bass in Gahanna's band, he will participate in the All-State Choir this year.

Stewart is a member of Gahanna's choir under the direction of Jeremy Lahman, and he studies vocal technique with Jenny Talbot, a 2006 Lincoln graduate.

From Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, all five All-State Ensembles will perform at the Professional Development Conference held in Cincinnati, Shellhammer said.

In addition to All-State Ensembles, Lincoln senior Catie Ryan said, students have been involved in other music groups in Columbus, such as programs sponsored by the Jazz Arts Group and Capital University's Conservatory Preparatory Division.

Auditions for the Columbus Youth Jazz program are held each spring and students are placed in one of four ensembles, including the nationally renowned Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Gahanna is represented in all four ensembles with senior Morgan Duff, alto sax, and junior Quinn Classen, trumpet, in the top ensemble, the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Among the other three groups are juniors Anna Aldis, baritone sax; Jacob McFall, bass; and Justin Perry, tenor sax; plus sophomores Chris Chandler and Caedmon Wood on trumpet.

Each group rehearses weekly in order to put together performances that encompass a variety of styles.

In addition to performances, members of the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra program have access to guest-artist workshops, recording sessions and free tickets for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

Ryan said Capital's Columbus Youth Symphonic Band is another opportunity for students to get involved outside of school, providing a challenge for high school musicians. Seven Gahanna band members are involved, including seniors Lennon Anderson, clarinet; Benjamin Brody, tuba; Quincy McConnell, clarinet; and Nathaniel Schmidt, tuba; plus juniors Jack Collins, euphonium; Anna Lower, oboe; and Seth Stemen, clarinet.

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