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Cottonwood High Music music students aim high in Seattle competition

May 08, 2017 03:41PM ● By Travis Barton

Cottonwood High School music council helped plan activities on the music students’ Seattle World Strides Heritage Festival competition. (Amber Tuckness/Cottonwood High School)

By Julie Slama   |   [email protected]

Throughout the school year, Cottonwood High music students have a chance to perform for their community, but in early April, they took their talents on the road to Seattle.

As part of the World Strides Heritage Festival competition April 4 through April 9 in Seattle, 134 musicians in four choirs and three instrumental groups performed for judges. As of press deadline, results from the contest were not known.

“Our goal is always to perform our best, to be the No. 1 program like last year,” instrumental director Amber Tuckness said.

Last year, the musicians came back with a two-foot-tall trophy for winning the sweepstakes award, which named them the best music program at the festival in San Francisco.  They also were extended an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall, which they weren’t able to attend as Granite School District’s policy limits the distance students can travel, she said.

This year, the choirs were to perform April 7 and the jazz ensemble, orchestra and wind ensemble with soloists juniors Anna Anderl and Abby Smedberg taking the stage on April 8.

“Our students will listen to one another as well as hear all the other groups perform. It’s a chance to support each other and listen to remarks from a clinician after the performances. The students also hear other high school students to see what they’re doing and to learn from them,” Tuckness said.

As it is many of the students’ first visit to Seattle, they planned to visit several sites, including the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Experience Music Project Museum, the Seattle Aquarium and go on the Underground Tour.

Each day had a special theme, as outlined by the 24-student member music council.

“There’s aquatic day, nerd day, hipster day and school pride day where everyone wears their shirt they get for the tour. The tour also comes with bag tags, the destinations we see and everything included for $650,” she said.

The music council also comes up with fun student awards as well. This year, they will present them at the Tillicum Village after a Native American storytelling show and salmon dinner.

To prepare for the competition, both Tuckness and choir director Cecil Sullivan collaborate with each other’s groups.

“He was an instrumentalist, so having a second pair of ears helps. I can help with rhythm with the choirs. We also bring in community experts — individual players or U (University of Utah) professors who will have sectionals and help our student musicians,” she said.

Tuckness said other opportunities for her instrumental students, such as playing side by side Murray’s symphony, gives her students a chance to grow.

“The more opportunities our students have to play with others, be heard by others, listen to others, the better musicians they’ll become,” she said.

The timing of this year’s World Strides festival has Tuckness energized.

“It’s right before region and state, so I’m excited about the feedback we get. We’ll be able to incorporate it to be able to perform at our best,” she said.