RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) – A prestigious event for New Mexico student musicians is only months away from its return, but with big changes safe for COVID. This makes some performing arts students question whether they are treated any differently from athletes. All-State brings together the best of the best when it comes to students in high school choirs, bands, and orchestras, but this year there will be a division with students spread across the state.
Music is part of Shannon Morlock’s daily routine. The Rio Rancho student has been a member of the prestigious New Mexico All-State Choral Ensemble for three years.
âMany students who do are recognized in their school, on announcements. In Cleveland, we have a tradition of ringing our bell on campus in front of the whole school, âsaid Morlock, senior at V. Sue Cleveland High School and chair of the Cleveland Choir program. âIt has also been a big deal to apply to colleges, to get scholarships in music at other schools across the country. “
After the latest event went virtual for the pandemic, students were eagerly awaiting the in-person return of the early 2022 ensemble for students in choir, orchestra and orchestra. But some, like Morlock, say they didn’t expect it to be any different.
âI have been told that the actual participants of the All-State Ensemble will not be together,â said Morlock. “They won’t be playing together and this is the first time this has happened.”
The 2022 All-State, hosted by the New Mexico Music Educators Association, is going from an event lasting almost a week to a single day. The day will be filled with rehearsals and performances, but the ensemble will not perform together, but will be spread across three regions of the state.
“It became pretty obvious early on that we wouldn’t be able to do it on this scale due to the number of mitigations we have to go through and also the mandates of the public education department,” said Neil Swapp. , executive director of NMMEA. . âStudents who are not vaccinated cannot share rooms, which would make it really prohibitive for students to attend such an event. Also, because of the large number of these sets, we could not fit in our rehearsal space. Also, the recital room we normally use is Popejoy and they have a pretty strict vaccine mandate so a lot of our kids wouldn’t have been able to participate. “
Organizers say the decision to divide the event into regions is largely due to vaccine requirements and capacity limits. The three regional events will not have an outside audience this year, as the students, instead, perform for each other.
âParents won’t be allowed to attend just because we don’t have the capacity to monitor vaccination status and testing status. Some of the sites won’t be as big as Popejoy, so we have to watch the crowd size, audience size, âSwapp said. “It will be a one day event where the students will have a rehearsal, clinic, keynote address and then do a very informal in-house concert for each other and we hope to zoom that to parents even though we are still getting around quite a bit.” copyright restrictions on this. “
Morlock says it’s disappointing. She and other students, who recently filed a petition, feel the state has promoted athletics, allowing fans to step into the stands, when it is another story for the arts.
âI’m not saying athletics shouldn’t do what it does. They should. What they are doing is absolutely right and I totally agree with it. The performing arts should also have this ability, âsaid Morlock. âI’m not asking not to wear a mask. I ask to be able to sing with my whole ensemble. Because those students who made All-State worked incredibly hard to even get the All-State title. If football can have district championships, have over a thousand people at their games every week, we can have a one-time event where the state of New Mexico is united in music. “
The organizers clarified that this event is not managed by the NMAA, which manages sports sanctions, hence the differences in what is allowed. However, they are hopeful that students can still enjoy his return and reiterated that the change in days and audiences will also not impact students’ abilities to connect with universities and earn scholarships.
âThis is a difficult time for all of us, especially for our students who came out of 18 months of disappointment,â Swapp said. “While this is not our normal huge and giant four day event, I think it will be quite special and I guarantee the children will learn and I guarantee the children will have great memories.”
The NMMEA plans to broadcast live performances from all the states for family and friends as they will not be able to attend in person. These details are still being finalized. The 2022 All-State Performances will take place on January 8 in Albuquerque, Portales and Las Cruces.