All-State Accolades

Junior Ranks First Cellist In State


Alice Liang

Junior Elias Gettemy performs a solo at the orchestra’s Fall Concert.

Donovan Nichols, News Editor

 For junior Elias Gettemy, cello has been a part of his life for over 10 years. Gettemy was principal cellist of the All-State Symphony Orchestra in February, ranking as first cellist in the state after a months long audition process.

“This summer I decided that I wanted to do music in college and beyond,” Gettemy said. “Before I had just played my cello and enjoyed it but I wasn’t as focused on it. This summer I decided I was going to really commit to cello, so I stopped doing soccer and I started practicing a lot more.”

Gettemy said he first started playing cello when he was 6 years old. This was his third year at All-State. He has also been a member of the top CRHS orchestra for three years and played in the Houston Youth Symphony.

“Auditioning and playing under intense, stressful conditions is definitely a learned thing,” Gettemy said. “Doing Region and All-State and Houston Youth Symphony for multiple years has definitely helped to harden my gut and my nerves. I try to think of the big picture, like ‘What am I going to do with this music?’ when I go up to audition. I try not to worry about small things like ‘Oh will I hit this shift?’ or ‘Oh will I get this note in tune?’ That’s one way to really calm down and focus. Another thing is I try to internalize right before I start playing how I will start the piece and I find different parts of my playing to focus on, like how I’m moving my bow through a certain section or my left hand through another, rather than focusing on minute details in the music.”

The All-State process that encompasses region auditions begins May 1, when two etudes, short pieces designed to develop a player’s technical skills, are released for each instrument. In July, the All-State excerpts are released, four short cuts for each instrument that come from pieces that the All-State Orchestras will perform. Auditions are held in October, and the process concludes with a concert at the TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Convention in February. Out of over 68,000 students initially auditioning from bands, orchestras, and choirs, 1,780 are accepted to All-State.

“Not getting distracted during the whole process is really important,” Gettemy said. “There’s a lot of things going on in our lives, so it’s challenging to keep that central focus that you could be practicing and getting down to it. For me, I’ve grown to really enjoy playing my cello, so I can find comfort and solace in it. It’s not always fun, but sitting down and practicing, especially this year, has really paid off. That reward empowers me to keep practicing, and through the whole process I see myself improve and that invigorates me, and motivates me to continue trying to improve.”

This year, three other students made All-State; junior Desheng Liu and sophomores Daniel Jo and Christine Wu.

“An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss was my favorite piece we’ve played at All-State,” Gettemy said. “It was my freshman year, so my first All-State experience, and it was really touching. It was really the first time I had done something by myself in this group of fellow music makers who really cared about music making as much as I did. Before I had been in HYS and the highest school orchestra and we played all these great pieces but it had been in a more home-based environment, so to step out of my home and go to San Antonio and play with all these unknown faces where we all shared a common love of music was really profound. That experience won’t come again.”