Pair of Seniors Take Center Stage

Pair of Seniors Take Center Stage
Posted on 02/10/2023

Senior year is a special time for every high school student. For two talented musicians in the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District, their senior year has been highlighted by exceptional performances at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State music ensembles.

Aidan Roy and Julia Spretty were both selected to participate in the highly competitive ensemble that brings students from across the state together to perform under the guidance of nationally-renowned conductors. Aidan was selected to participate in the Jazz Ensemble, which only had 24 spots open to those who auditioned from every district in New York. Meanwhile, Julia was selected to join the Symphonic Band, where she was the only musician in the entire state to play the Eb clarinet.

Aidan credits the experience for reaffirming his desire to continue pursuing music beyond high school.

I would say that the immediate synchronicity made me feel very confident that I would love to pursue music at a collegiate level,” said Aidan. “I definitely want to keep music with me in any way that I can because I feel that it is a very important part of my life. It really allows me a lot of creativity and self expression.”

Aidan Roy performing at NYSSMA All-State

This was the second year Julia had performed at the All-State level. In 2021, she was selected to participate in the Symphony Orchestra. She credits the program with helping her meet like-minded musicians in different districts, and forming bonds that will last a lifetime with them.

Both years, I connected with and made life-long friends with all of the talented musicians around me,” said Julia. “I really do think that is one of the most special parts about going to the All-State Conference.”

Julia Spretty at NYSSMA All-State concert

Aidan and Julia have always shined on stage in both the high school band and chorus. Their teachers have found ways to challenge them and prepare them for performances on the state level, such as extra practice sessions and out-of-school lessons. Both students also credit having to take responsibility over their own work habits to be able to qualify for the auditions and secure their spots in the ensemble.

“I had an extensive solo that was particularly challenging to play on Eb clarinet, a unique and uncommon instrument in the clarinet family,” said Julia. “When the piece was over, the composer took the time to specifically acknowledge me on the way I played the solo, which he described as ‘beautifully.’ It made me feel accomplished and proud that the composer of a challenging piece had those thoughts about my own playing.”

I also feel that the ensemble helped to prepare me for life after high school by giving me confidence,” said Aidan. “When I was on stage performing, I experienced almost like a realization that I deserved to be there, that I had worked hard to be there, and that I was good enough, and talented enough, to be there.”

Julia and Aidan are close friends outside of the auditorium. Both said getting the opportunity to experience the festivities that went along with the weekend of performances made the trip more meaningful.

Attending All-State this year knowing that one of my closest friends from Waterford was also going, made me feel more supported leading up to it,” said Julia. “I felt less nervous and more at peace with myself mentally, and having Aidan there helped me to an extent, for sure.”

Aidan and Julia

The musical duo hope to serve as an inspiration for younger classmates who may be beginning their musical journey. They say while the work can be hard at times, the reward at the end makes everything worth it.

“One of the most important things to remember is that hard work, passion, and determination will get you far,” said Julia. “Music is such a special art form; there is always something new to discover. Make sure to do your best and that you put in the amount of work it takes; you will be on the road to success.”

As for advice that I would give any underclassmen, it would have to be to just try NYSSMA,” said Aidan. “Just try to audition. If you don’t do well, that’s alright. No one is going to remember it. However, if you nail it, then you could go on to Area All-State, which is pretty cool. Really, the big thing I would say is that even if you have the slightest desire to try it, do it.”