Van Bree also received an honorable mention for his flute audition; senior Justin Koesterer received first alternate jazz trumpet; senior Jakub Gorzko received honorable mention alto saxophone, and sophomore Alexander Unseth was named the first alternate cello.
Just Van Bree and Hartung will be playing in the state band. Koesterer and Unseth are first in line to fill in for their respective instruments if a conflict arises.
To qualify for the state auditions, students were required to successfully try out for their district band—jazz, concert, or orchestra—back in October. Missouri is divided into multiple districts, and the State auditions are a culmination of all the district musicians. The competition is much tougher for state than it is for districts, because students must play more complex etudes and music.
Hartung believed his audition last year was better, even though he did not make the band.
“I was really disappointed last year because I felt like I had a great audition, and this year it was kind of the opposite. I thought I messed up my audition really badly and turned out that I made it. So yeah, I was super excited,” said Hartung.
SLUH band director Jeff Pottinger does not know exactly how many guitar players Hartung competed against, but he estimates that number is between 20 and 30. Regardless, he was very impressed with Hartung’s accomplishment.
“It’s just mind blowing to think about how good you have to be to be first. Last year he got top five, but it’s really just a special accomplishment. Number one in anything—number one history student, number one ACT (score), number one whatever—is great, so I’m just really happy for him, really impressed,” said Pottinger.
Pottinger believes that Hartung’s time in JazzU has helped shape him into becoming a better musician. Through the JazzU program, Hartung is able to rehearse with some of St. Louis’s premier jazz teachers and musicians, and he also has the opportunity to play with outstanding musicians his age. Many of the members in Hartung’s JazzU group are also in the State jazz band.
“Everybody I’ve ever had that’s gotten into the JazzU program has grown exponentially,” Pottinger said.
Van Bree performed in two highly competitive auditions for two different instruments, the piccolo and the flute, and was recognized for both. Although many people believe the piccolo and flute are virtually the same instruments, they are quite different from one another, and each had unique music. As a result, Van Bree had to prepare and perfect music for two instruments.
Van Bree competed against over a hundred other flute players as well as many piccolo players. To be third chair piccolo and a top honored flute player is a huge accomplishment and one that show the unique abilities of Van Bree.
While not all who tried out left Columbia happy or successful, Pottinger commends all the hard work each musician put in and he believes that the work will be beneficial in the long run.
“Just to be able to play all the quantity of music and difficulty of music is an achievement, and then try and perfect it to that point you need to to be competitive at the state level. Honestly, these guys are like little professionals,” said Pottinger.
The concert itself will be held at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo. in late January.