NEW PALESTINE — Participants for this year’s Indiana All-State High School Band festival have been announced, and for the second year in a row, New Palestine High School junior Emily Burden was selected.
Not only has Emily been selected as one of the best 175 high school musicians in the state, she’s also been chosen as one of the top 87 musicians who will play in the Indiana All-State Honor Band.
“You try out just once in an audition, and they select who they want for the honors band,” Emily said. “It was exciting to hear I had made the honors band.”
What makes her selection by the Indiana Bandmasters Association even more special is that, in her estimation, she didn’t have the greatest audition.
“Last year, I didn’t really have a great audition, but I’m really critical on myself, and while this year’s audition was better, there were still things that happen when you audition that never happen when you’re just playing,” she said.
The highly competitive auditions took place in January at nine locations throughout the state. More than 750 musicians took part.
The top 175 students were selected from 55 high schools around the state. Eighty-seven students, including Emily, were chosen for the honors band.
“I do feel really honored, and I’d never take something like this for granted,” she said. “I do work really hard, but I also know there are a ton of talented musicians out there.”
Her band director at NPHS, Shawn Humphries, said Emily is a special musician, but being selected for the honors band is something she has earned.
“She’s a hard worker,” Humphries said. “We have a lot of kids with the ability, but it takes more than that.”
Just like it does in any craft, Humphries said musicians have to take time to practice, plus make a commitment to learning about music, and that means studying, something Emily does.
Humphries said while Emily is a very good music student, she is also a gifted musician. Plus, she’s the type of student who gets the most out of her ability through the sacrifices she makes.
“She’s made it into the state’s top ensemble for two years in a row, and I think that speaks volumes for her,” Humphries said. “Making it this year to the honors level is just a natural progression.”
Emily’s father, Miles Burden, said he’s seen his daughter put in countless hours of practice to make it to the level she has, but he hopes it is just the tip of the iceberg for her.
“She’s really one of the premiere flutists in the state,” he said. “She’s being sought by performance universities, and she deserves to have this recognition.”
He said he knows his daughter has a unique talent and believes the sky is the limit with her abilities.
All members of the honors band will participate in a series of activities, including seating auditions, sectionals and full rehearsals Friday, March 14, through Sunday, March 16.
A grand finale concert will be presented to the public at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 16, in the Elliott Hall of Music on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette.
Having gone through the experience last year, Emily said she can’t wait to take part in all the activities again.
“It’s was just the best experience I’ve ever had,” Emily said. “It was absolutely fantastic from the first note. We had had such an amazing conductor who just wanted to get the best sound from the group.”
This year, Emily will be conducted by John Lynch from the University of Georgia, and Emily said she knows she’ll have her work cut out for her.
“The music is a lot more challenging in an honors band,” she said. “They expect more of you maturity-wise and music-wise.”
Humphries said he has no doubt Emily one day will be able to compete at the national level and he is proud to work with her.
“Emily has always been gifted,” Humphries said. “When you have somebody like Emily who combines her natural talent with a hard work ethic, this is the kind of results you get.”
Editor’s note: Emily Burden’s mother died unexpectedly last week. However, her father, Miles Burden, wanted this story about Emily to move forward. He noted she had worked hard to earn a spot in the 2014 Honors Band. The interview with Emily was completed prior to her mother’s death.