Aaron Dieter

Oregon eighth-grader Aaron Dieter plays the marimba during the eighth grade concert earlier this year. Dieter scored a 4.8 out of 5 at the Wisconsin Music Association’s Virtual State Solo and Ensemble.

Stemming from fears of the coronavirus spreading, the Wisconsin School Music Association State Solo and Ensemble festival went to virtual performances this year.

Aaron Dieter, an eighth grader and seventh-grader Lucy Fradkin-Annen were two students from Oregon Middle School which received exemplary scores.

Oregon High School had 14 students participate in 16 classes in band, choir and orchestra and Oregon Middle School had four students participate in four classes.

More than 5,000 Wisconsin high school students took part in the WSMA Virtual Solo Festival, which opened in March and concluded in May. The submissions included more than 2,000 vocal and 2,900 instrumental state submissions.

Students were able to upload their performance video and receive evaluation through written comments.

To qualify for state competition, participants had to earn a “starred first” rating in Class A (which consists of the most difficult music) at a WSMA District Music Festival to qualify for WSMA State Music Festivals. The participants, in grades 6-12, can choose from a variety of instrumental and vocal solo and ensemble categories for their performances in district festivals throughout the state.

Judges used a rubric to score the performance that includes tone, intonation, accuracy, technique and expression. Each category includes descriptors of what a high-quality performance should demonstrate and performers are rated on a five-point scale in each category, with five being the highest score this year. The score is determined by averaging the points earned in each category.

Dieter earned a 4.83 out of 5 for his marimba performance, which was a recording of his eighth grade concert.

“With the marimba I have at home it wouldn’t have sounded as powerful,” he said. “The marimba at school is larger and had the range I needed for the piece.”

Adjudicators were required to provide written comment evaluations after they watched the performance video.

Dieter said not having the face-to-face meeting with an adjudicator didn’t hurt his state experience.

Dieter played the drums and synthesizer piano when he was younger. When Josh Dieter started playing the marimba when he was in high school, Aaron was hooked on the sounds it could make.

“I just really liked the sound on the bottom end,” he said. “It’s an unusual sound you hear. It was really echoey. You could do a lot of different chords with that sound.”

Fradkin-Annen earned a top score on her viola performance of “J.S. Bach Five Suites for Viola; Suite No. 1, Allemande and Minuet.” It’s the second time Fradkin-Annen has competed at state.

“I was much more nervous,” she said of this year.

Having the opportunity to record a performance several times and selecting the best one made it tougher.

“It would have been quiet if I was in the room and I would have only done it once,” Fradkin-Annen said.