CHS trumpet player makes All-National band ensemble

CHS trumpet player makes All-National band ensemble

CUMBERLAND - A Cumberland High School senior is preparing for the performance of a lifetime in Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel at the end of the month, having been named to an elite group of National Association for Music Education All-National musicians from high schools across the country.

To think she almost didn't audition.

Emily Levesque, who has been playing trumpet since 5th grade and has been a member of the concert band at CHS all four years, said she has former CHS Band Director Lisa Koziol-Kenyon to thank for pushing her to send in a two-minute solo recording in March. She was invited to do so after placing sixth in the All-State competition.

"I didn't want to not make it," Levesque said. "KK pushed me."

Levesque, daughter of George and Beth Levesque, has been immersed in music since a young age, when her father said she used to plunk out songs on the piano. A member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble, the University of Rhode Island Honors Band, and chorus and Clef Singers at CHS, she collects instruments and learns to play them at least basically so she can have a foundation for music education, what she plans to pursue in college.

She has made All-State every year since 9th grade, when her private coach, Mike Konnerth, bribed her to audition with a trombone to add to her collection.

The All-National audition tape took her hours in a big, echo-y room to complete.

"It was difficult," she said. "It was stressful."

But it paid off.

While on vacation with her family in San Francisco this July, Levesque got the email from Koziol-Kenyon. She learned she was one of four students to make 1st trumpet, the highest of three levels, and one of three Rhode Island students to make All-Nationals for band.

"The entire day I was so excited," she said. "I didn't even think I was going to make it, never mind get 1st trumpet."

Her prize is a trip to Nashville, Tenn., at the end of October with her parents. The adults get to follow their own itinerary while the kids rehearse all day for a culminating performance at the NAFME conference at the end of the weekend.

Levesque said she is already feeling the pressure.

"It's nerve-wracking to play in front of other musicians of your caliber," she said.

After dinner each night, however, students are given reprieve and taken out for a something fun, like seeing "Tarzan" before it heads to Broadway.

"I love the music from 'Tarzan,' so I'm really excited," Levesque said.