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Local students all ‘tuned up’ to test their music skills

POULSBO — NKHS senior Kelsey French will be making her fourth appearance at the state band solo and ensemble contest on her French Horn, one of the few students to do so all four years of high school.

Though she may not be the last from North Kitsap.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kingston Junior High School freshman and oboe player Karina Hoogstede, going for her first time and — like French before her — as one of the very few junior high school students to qualify for the event.

“I’m very nervous,” she admitted, “but I’m just going there to learn things and watch. And even if I don’t do that well, I’ll have two chances after that.”

But Jeff Haag, KJH band director, has no doubt that Hoogstede will make an impact in her first year at state.

“I think she’s going to do very well,” he said. “She’s going to learn a lot. She’s in the big leagues now.”

In all, seven North Kitsap School District band students will be performing at the 2005 state solo and ensemble contest at Central Washington University in Ellensburg this weekend. More than 650 soloists and 1,500 students in 300 ensembles from across the state will be performing in the two-day event.

It is the third year that junior Katie Stephens will make the trip playing the bassoon. Stephens, who could also go all four years, said her biggest emphasis is on preparation.

“This year, I’m going to have my piece ready,” she said. “I started on it way ahead of time.”

The congregation of so many good musicians from around the state also makes the appearance worthwhile, Stephens added.

“After you play, you can just sit back in awe,” she said. “It’s really motivating.”

The state competition will be NKHS junior and trombone player Paul Bowers’ first and he hopes to make his initial appearance there memorable for CWU music aficionados, a school he’d quite possibly like to attend and play for in college.

“See if I can get their attention,” Bowers said, “As well as see how I rank up there with the rest of the state’s trombonists.”

NKHS student Robert Ferrese may be a sophomore at the high school, but he’ll be a freshman when he plays the clarinet this weekend in Ellensburg.

“I’m just looking forward to doing this for the first time,” Ferrese said.

Also going to state at the high school will be Jay Stevens, on the snare drum, and Matthew Grantham, on the tenor-baritone sax.

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