The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


First string

The 130+ musicians onstage are rushing to the their chairs, checking the intonation of their instruments for the last time and shuffling their music into order.

Then silence falls.

The conductor steps up to the podium and raises his baton.

A collective breath.

Then music.

Feb. 25 marked the performance of all high school All-State music groups in Wichita, Kan. The Shawnee Mission school district sent approximately 70 students to the three days of rehearsals, culminating in the final concert on Saturday night. Thirteen NW students were placed in the various bands, orchestras and choirs.

One such student was senior cellist Connor Stubblefield, now a three-year All-State musician.

“Sophomore year I didn’t really think that I’d make it, so I was just kind of resigned about that. I wasn’t really nervous; I wasn’t excited. I was just resigned,” Stubblefield said. “After I made it for junior year, I kind of got a little excited because I thought I could make it again, and then I did. And then this year, I just kind of assumed I’d make it because I’d made it the two years before, so I wasn’t too nervous.”

In order to be placed in the state orchestra, students have to first audition for the district orchestra, make it and then audition for state. Auditions for districts took place back in November; auditions for state, in January, but preparations started long before that for many students.

“I have Independent Study every day third hour, so that’s at least an hour of practice, except on Wednesdays, and that’s like an hour and a half,” Stubblefield said, “and then I generally practice a little bit after school every day.”

When it came to the actual symphony rehearsals, preparations were very different. Students left before school on Thursday, arrived in Wichita and began rehearsing almost immediately and intensely.

“Basically, once we arrive, we start playing and every day there’s about three rehearsals. Altogether we played for like thirteen hours, which was a lot considering it was only three days long,” Stubblefield said. “It was a lot of hard work. You get really tired because you’re just playing for hours and hours, and you also start to get a little bit bored with the music, which is bad because you don’t play it as well as you’re supposed to. It was kind of stressful because everyone sits down, and there’s a lot of people, and you can’t really hear the conductor, and stuff like that.”

Along with participating in the NW Chamber and Symphony orchestras and the district and state ensembles, Stubblefield is involved in a variety of musical activities.

“I also have trio rehearsals, quartet rehearsals, private lessons and Youth Symphony, so that’s a lot of playing as well,” Stubblefield said. “I kind of believe more quality than quantity, so I try to practice as little as possible, while getting the most out of it.”

Stubblefield is taught privately by Ludmila Lupacheva, a graduate of the Saratov Conservatory of Music in Russia.

“She likes to give me lots of music, and then she kind of forgets about it. Basically what that means is that she lets me work on what I think I need to work on, and she just gently steers me in the right direction,” Stubblefield said. “She works a lot with emotion and technique, and she’s a very passionate teacher.”

At the beginning of the year, Stubblefield set several goals for herself musically.

“I guess just getting into a good college and basically, just bettering myself as a player,” Stubblefield said. “I’ve been trying to get a little more well-rounded, as far as repertoire, like I’ve been playing a lot of classical and Russian music.”

As far as colleges go, she has been looking at and auditioning for the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf’s College and the University of Kansas. For those auditions, she played a Bach suite and Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1.

“At the University of Minnesota, they have a really strong cello program,” Stubblefield said, “and then at St. Olaf’s, they’re really known for their choir, but they also have really strong strings.”

Stubblefield began playing at the end of eighth grade, and has loved it ever since.

“I like it because it sounds a lot like the human voice,” Stubblefield said, “and also because if you put effort into it, you can automatically hear the results.”

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First string