NCHS Music Students Play at Western Regionals Music Festival

#Repost from NCHS Courant's, "Music students are accepted into the Western Region High School Festival", by Amy Meng

In the heart of western Connecticut, the annual Western Regionals music festival stands as a testament to the talent and dedication of high school musicians from nearly 30 cities. This event, organized by the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA), brings together a select group of music students, showcasing their skills in a regional setting. Students auditioned for the festival in December and came together to perform on the 12th and 13th of January. 

All students involved in orchestra, band, and choir are strongly encouraged to audition for Western Regionals. “We are very happy for the students who had a successful audition, but the important part is that they got an opportunity to put themselves out there,” band teacher Barry Zhou said. “Just auditioning helps them grow as a musician and we try not to focus too much on who got what score. We just want everyone to keep improving.”

To prepare for the audition, students practice the required piece and expected scales, as well as familiarize themselves with important sight reading techniques. “We got the piece a few weeks in advance. It’s not particularly complex, but it’s about how well you play it and conduct yourself during the audition,” senior and jazz drumset player Anderson Cook said. 

When it comes to the audition itself, the judge evaluates each musician with established criteria for each given instrument. “Everything is on a point system,” sophomore and trombone player Naomi Pitts said. “You go through scales and your audition piece. Most of the time, judges don’t even talk to you.” 

The organizers of Western Regionals aim to make the audition process fair for every student. Auditions are held at different high schools every year, with one experienced music instructor evaluating the auditioning musician. “You don’t really interact with the judge because the association doesn’t want to take any bias into account. They play a little recording welcoming you to the audition,” junior and choir member Henry Tate said. 

Although musicians of different instruments and backgrounds come together at this annual festival, there are five subdivisions in which students can audition for: choir, concert band, jazz, orchestra, and string ensemble. Judges may have different criteria depending on the instrument. “There are different rubrics for each subdivision,” senior and choir member Rachel Pitts said. “For choir, you are graded on your tone and pitch for the scales, as well as musicality for the song and accuracy when sight reading.”

With the acceptance rate hovering around an estimated 30 percent, Western Regionals is a selective program to be accepted into. This year, the high school’s music students performed exceptionally well and will be part of the regional festival as the principal flute in the orchestra, second chair flute in the band, second chair trombone in the band, and sole drummer of the jazz band, to name a few accolades. “You get to work with really cool conductors, some at the collegiate level,” Henry said. “You’re performing with students that are as talented or more talented than you are.” 

Students who are accepted into Western Regionals and participate in the festival are then eligible to audition for All-State, an even more competitive program that brings together the most talented musicians from all four regions of Connecticut. 

Not only is Western Regionals an opportunity for students to display their musical talent and meet others who share the same interests, but also allows them to further develop their audition skills. “It is also good practice for future auditions,” Anderson said. “In a few weeks, I will be flying out to the University of Michigan to audition for their jazz program, and doing Western Regionals gave me a guideline of how it might go, and how the judges might act. It’s just good preparation for larger auditions in the future.”

The audition is a nerve-wracking process for many, as a single judge usually scores the performance which will determine acceptance into the program. “It’s a great experience in general to be able to go in front of a judge and have to exert a certain level of confidence so that you can play well. You have to trust yourself,” Naomi said. 

As these passionate musicians share their insights and experiences, it is evident that Western Regionals goes beyond performance—it’s a transformative journey for every participant to discover and improve their talent. 

Listed below are the following 25 students accepted into Western Regionals:




  • Anderson Cook
  • Lily Hole
  • Alma Hsu
  • Daryl Lavin
  • Lia Lavin
  • Naomi Pitts
  • Allison Stiles
  • Nila Thirumalai
  • Mason Williams
  • Hayden Burke
  • Charlotte Campbell
  • Bennett Gropper
  • Tucker Kosofsky
  • Maddy Peterson
  • Serena Peterson
  • Thomas Pisant
  • Morgan Pitts
  • Rachel Pitts
  • Henry Tate
  • Emily Telesco
  • Isabella Temple
  • Daniel Yoo

- Eric Huang
- Niyathi Iyengar
- Jacqueline Mulle