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Sing it loud

Senior places in top 2% of high school choir in state of Texas
Kunan Anjum
Senior Salem Alonge performs group vocal warm-ups during choir. Alonge is the only Texas High student to move on to All-State choir.

One after another, the musicians move onto stage in position, ready to perform. Voices echo off the walls of the hall as judges ponder the question. Who moves on to the next stage, and who doesn’t? 

The Texas Music Education Association (TMEA) selects 1,800 out of 70,000 students from both choir and band for the All-State process. Senior Salem Alonge, one of the select 1,800, officially ranked in the top 2% of high school musicians in the state of Texas. 

Choir director and teacher, Christina Moon-Sullivan explains the impact of the Allstate experience on beginner musicians. 

“It helps them think more broadly about music and in a group setting we can work together, but in an individual setting when you’re working with choir music you can see a lot of the details again in different music that we wouldn’t normally get to perform here,” Sullivan said. “This is music that is expected to be done with a bigger group and so it’s a lot more freedom with how you can interact with the music and how it’s performed later on.” 

To prepare for her All-State audition, Alonge thoroughly studied the music for her competitions. 

“So the music for the audition came out in May of last year. And the moment it came out I didn’t have physical copies,” Alonge said. “Anywhere I could find sheet music for them I studied it and tried as much as possible to understand it. I listened to a lot of [the music], and it was just great.”

Although some of the music wasn’t her favorite, she did not let this obstacle stop her from practicing. 

“They had some really difficult pieces,” Alonge said. “I made sure I stood there and I learned it. [I] had to learn German, not my favorite, but we moved on.” 

As mentioned previously, Salem did have to learn notes in German. Sullivan expresses the importance of the Allstate experience, and how it enables musicians to get out of their comfort zone. 

“It’s super important, because it kind of helps with independent musicianship because it gets you involved with music that you wouldn’t normally see necessarily in every setting,” Sullivan said. “It exposes the students to many different types of music in many different languages.”

Alonge remains excited to meet with other All-State finalists in San Antonio for the 2024 TMEA Convention and Concert from Feb. 7-10th. 

“I am so excited to go to San Antonio. I’m going to see people that I missed last year,” Alonge said. “I’m going to go there because [there are] a bunch of musicians who really love music,  probably even as much or more than I do.” 

Alonge expects to meet a lot of other musicians who can help her perfect her craft and build on her talents.

[My sister] didn’t make it [to All-State] so learning that I made it made her so ecstatic. I think she’s more excited about it than I ever will be.

— Salem Alonge

“I’m going to be in a room with people who are going to teach me a lot more about skills with music that I didn’t know how to do,” Alonge said. “Just being in that musical space and environment for three days. It’s just a great peace of mind.”

Salem’s accomplishment leaves Sullivan full of gratitude to be with her through her Allstate audition. 

“I feel really privileged,” Sullivan said. “I feel lucky to have gone [to Allstate] with her.” 

A former TMEA musician and Alonge’s sister, Wisdom Alonge, expresses her excitement about Alonge’s accomplishments. 

“My sister was also a TMEA musician,” Alonge said. “She didn’t make it [to All-State] so learning that I made it made her so ecstatic. I think she’s more excited about it than I ever will be.” 

The exciting news thrilled her family along with her sister. 

“My dad is one of those people that any of my accomplishments gets posted everywhere,” Alonge said. “So the moment I told him, he was like, ‘Oh my gosh, let me tell your uncle, grandma, and cousins.’” 

Overall, Alonge’s journey through choir taught her a lot. 

“It taught me resilience. I will say that’s the biggest thing,” Alonge said. “It’s so disappointing when you’re at the final step and they tell you ‘Oh, sorry, you didn’t make it,’ or you see people around you who just don’t make it because of the tiniest, nitpicky reasons.” 

Sullivan points out Salem’s biggest strength being her leadership skills, and attention to details. 

“I think her leadership has a great attention to detail and is very brave,” Sullivan said. “She’s also not afraid to step up and ask questions and dig deep into some of the minor details that sometimes may be overlooked.” 

Alonge continues discussing her experiences on stage, along with other lessons they’ve taught her.

“The crowd is telling me that these people are a lot better than me,” Alonge said. “I went there and showed the crowd that I can do a lot more than what they’re telling me. [This whole journey] taught me to ride guns against the grain.”

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About the Contributor
Kunan Anjum
Kunan Anjum, Staff writer
Kunan Anjum is a first-year staff writer for THS Publications. Apart from newspaper, he is involved in several other groups including Robotics Club and ASPIRE. Formerly a competitive tennis player for Texas High School, Anjum has moved on to other hobbies like hitting the gym, listening to music, and walking his dog. 

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