Mt. Vernon, New Palestine students earn band honor

HANCOCK COUNTY — Two local students have been selected as masters of music.

Andrew Roembke, a sophomore at Mt. Vernon High School, and Cameron Smith, a New Palestine High School junior, were selected to be part of the Indiana Bandmasters Association’s all-state band and honor band, respectively. The designation honors outstanding high school musicians, who are then invited to perform alongside fellow honorees.

Cameron was one of four oboe players from across the state chosen to participate; Andrew was one of six cornet players. Cameron and Andrew were two of the 167 students selected to be part of the bands out of more than 600 who auditioned.

The teens start rehearsals this weekend at Purdue University, where they will perform Sunday in a free public concert at the Elliott Hall of Music.

They will be directed by James Ripley, professor of music and director of instrumental activities at Carthage College, and Russell V. Gross Jr., retired chief musician of the U.S. Navy Band.

The experience will give students a chance to mingle and learn alongside other top musicians, New Palestine band director Shawn Humphries said.

“It’s a prestigious reward,” Humphries said. “It’s the elite of the elite.”

The teens’ band directors said they aren’t surprised their students were chosen for the honor; they practice every day and always are looking to improve.

Being selected to participate as a sophomore is a credit to Andrew’s hard work, said Mt. Vernon High School band director Derek Ellinger. Typically, the seats are filled by juniors and seniors, he said.

Andrew said he typically spends three to five hours a week practicing outside of band class. Earlier this year, he was selected to play trumpet in the all-state jazz contest.

Andrew said although he’s nervous to be participating this weekend, he’s also excited.

The music is tough, but he’s been practicing to prepare for Sunday’s concert.

“It’s going to be a new experience,” he said. “I’m excited to meet new people who enjoy music as much as I do.”

In addition to the honor band, Cameron is part of the New World Youth Orchestra, which meets Sundays to practice and play. That group will get the chance to travel to New York in April to perform at Carnegie Hall.

The experiences to play along other talented musicians excites him, he said.

“It’s always good to play with musicians who care about music as much as you do,” Cameron said.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or