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BCSD students qualify for All State Orchestra

Published on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

BCSD students qualify for All State Orchestra

BCSD photo / Alex Morris

BCSD students qualify for All State Orchestra

BCSD photo / Finn Donnelly, Carlton Williams and Preston Broadhurst

Four Berkeley County School District orchestra students have qualified for All State Orchestra – three from Cane Bay High and the fourth from Marrington Middle School of the Arts.

Tenth-grader Finn Donnelly and 12th-graders Carlton Williams and Preston Broadhurst will represent Cane Bay High. They work under the direction of Linda Versprille, director of orchestras and steel bands at the school. Eighth-grader Alex Morris will represent Marrington Middle School of the Arts; he works under the direction of Ann Raymond, orchestra director at the school.

In order to be eligible for All State Orchestra, students must first be selected for the orchestra in their region. Berkeley County School District is located in Region 4, which encompasses the entire coastal region of South Carolina, Myrtle Beach to Beaufort, including Florence and Sumter. It is the largest region in the South Carolina Music Educators Association Orchestra Division.

Students then learn excerpts from the repertoire to be played at the All State Orchestra weekend. There are three orchestras: one for grades sixth through eighth grade, one for ninth through 10th grade and one for 11th through 12th grade. This will be a symphony orchestra experience with winds and percussion chosen from the top scoring All State Band students (these will also be determined this month).

Broadhurst has been playing the bass for eight years. He has pursued orchestra since the fifth grade.

He said it was his goal to make it to All State ever since hearing about it last year from Versprille.

Making it to All State this year is rewarding.

“It was relieving after putting all the work into it,” he said.

Broadhurst named Versprille as his biggest supporter. After high school he plans on attending Presbyterian College to continue playing bass.

Williams plays the cello. He pursued orchestra in sixth grade after hearing the eighth grade orchestra perform at Sangaree Middle as a demonstration. Versprille was actually the first teacher he worked under.

This is his fourth time qualifying for All State. He has also made it one year as a saxophone player in All State Band.

“It feels really good knowing that your hard work pays off at the end,” he said.

Williams has gone through pre-screen for New York University’s orchestra and still has to go up for a live audition. He also has an upcoming audition with the University of South Carolina.

He named Versprille as one of his main supporters, along with Damian Kremer with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has received private instruction.

Donnelly also plays the cello. He started at Cario Middle School in Mt. Pleasant playing the violin but switched when he came to Cane Bay at the beginning of seventh grade.

Donnelly has also previously made All State Band for bass clarinet.

Donnelly said this past year at Cane Bay High has been pretty easy.

“I’ve put a lot more practice in this year,” he said.

He named his mom and Vesprille as his biggest supporters.

Versprille said the Cane Bay High Orchestra has had a good school year. She doted on her All State students.

“I’m really, really proud of them. They worked really hard,” she said.

Morris has been playing the bass more than a year and a half. He started playing guitar at the age of 6 and has been drawn to string instruments ever since.

He said it feels really good to make All State.

“I worked hard for it and I feel good about it,” he said.

Morris plans to continue playing when he gets to high school.

He named Raymond and his family as his biggest supporters, as well as his private teacher.

“I’m very proud of him,” Raymond said. “He has work hard to get to where he is at.”

Monica Kreber