top of page

Talented Orchestra Students from Katy Advance to All-State


February 20, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

Achieving the All-State level in the Texas Music Educators Association process is the highest honor a Texas musician can earn. Students from five Katy ISD high schools dedicated countless hours to practicing their instruments and perfecting challenging classical music selections.

After the All-State etudes were released in May, students across the state began practicing the music. The talented students from Katy ISD admit rehearsing between and 1-5 hours per day. Upperclassmen were simultaneously tasked with preparing for SAT and ACT exams and writing college essays.


Orchestra by the Numbers

This year, 22 Seven Lakes High School (SLHS) orchestra members advanced to Area. 11 of those students reached All-State. Seven of them are returning All-State members.

In conjunction with their individual All-State accomplishments, these 11 students were members of the Seven Lakes Symphony Orchestra, which was named the 2020 TMEA Honor Full Orchestra (state champions). They performed at the TMEA Convention in San Antonio in front of thousands of music educators and supporters.

Pictured (left to right) Kneeling: Collin Campbell

Seated: Timothy Lin, Fulin Jiang, Elif Isil Karakas, Cheryl Zeng

Standing: Leeah Chang, Lauren Mathews, Aubrey Cui, April Feng, Jaden Oca, Mohamed Zewail

“Because of our passionate and talented students, our string and symphony orchestras have placed in the final round in the TMEA Honor Orchestra Competitions year after year,” says Desiree Overree, Orchestra Director at Seven Lakes High School.

“I practice piano for five hours every day,” says Elif Isil Karakas. “Competition makes me stronger and more ambitious. Listening to different interpretations of a piece makes it possible to see the richness of music.”

Cellist Lauren Matthews says, “Through the All-State process, I have learned to set goals and use my time efficiently. I use these skills in school when classes are difficult and assignments become more challenging."



Pictured (left to right): Isaac Choi and Allison Paquette

“I think the skills of work ethic and consistent practice can be applied really anywhere, says Taylor High School junior, Isaac Choi. “It allows you to be really productive with school work and just any responsibilities that you have and I’m so thankful for those skills.”

“Isaac and Allison lead our James E. Taylor Chamber Orchestra, each day, with positive attitudes while always demonstrating respect for their orchestra directors and peers” says Clinton Capshaw, Orchestra Director at Taylor High School.



Pictured (left to right): Jenny Xun, Jojo Fujiwara, William Suh, Michael Chung, Nicholas Kao, Michelle Lee, Eugene Chung and Elleen Kim

“Our kids’ dedication and commitment to their discipline is astonishing,” says Matthew Porter, Orchestra Director at Tompkins High School. “Many of these students have technical skills that come close to rivaling most professional musicians."

This year, Tompkins High School had the largest class of All-State musicians in the school’s history. This school’s orchestra members earned third place in the state for the 2020 honor full orchestra competition (credit to the OTHS band as well) and second place in the 2020 honor string orchestra competition.

“For the Tompkins Orchestras, this dedication and commitment permeates every aspect of our program,” Porter says. “It is fun to celebrate the all-state achievement but one must not forget that the journey and effort put in to accomplish this task is its own reward.”



Pictured (left to right): Omar Juarez and Joseph Escobar

Both talented bassists from Morton Ranch High School started preparing in May for the October audition. Omar Juarez is also a varsity wrestler, again proving that hard work, organization, dedication and discipline will help in all areas of life.

Their orchestra director, Gabriel Katz, says, “It shows the students in my program that hard work does pay off!”



Pictured (left to right): Christine Wu, Daniel Jo, Desheng Liu and Elias Gettemy

“Making the Texas All-State groups is a lifestyle choice that takes a special dedication to practice and perfecting the audition music as best as you can,” says Brett Nelsen, Orchestra Director at Cinco Ranch High School.

“Through this process, I learned the value of hard work,” says Cinco Ranch High School sophomore Christine Wu. “It felt very rewarding to be able to accomplish a goal I had been working towards since freshman year through sheer practice, and I will be sure to work even harder in the future to accomplish other goals.”

To learn more about the TMEA process and see a complete list of results, visit their website here.


bottom of page