Cat Chat: Sydney Brown


One of Whitewater’s coolest attained a very high accomplishment. Sydney Brown, a Senior, has been accepted into the GMEA All State Orchestra-Strings division. She has worked tirelessly for this achievement, and she has shared the journey of how she reached where she is now and spread some light on the inner workings of the audition.

What instrument do you play and how long have you been playing?

“I play cello and I’ve been playing for six years now, so since sixth grade, right in the beginning of middle school till right now.

What got you interested in orchestra?

Honestly, I wanted to do band, because you know how in middle school, they give you the opportunity to sign up? Then my mom was like, ‘You should do orchestra,’ and I was like ‘Oh, ok,’ and so that’s what I did.”

What got you interested in the audition?

“Well, in middle school, they start telling us about different things you can do, so there’s a[n orchestra] county level…you can audition for and there’s a state one, obviously the state one’s harder. The first time I auditioned was in seventh grade, and then also eighth grade, not ninth grade, and then tenth through twelfth, so it’s been a long process. But yeah, I guess just my teachers telling me, and then I decided to just go for it. Usually There’s two rounds, but this year, there were three because they wanted to be a little special this year, I don’t know why.”

What are the different divisions for All State Orchestra?

“So basically, All State has a bunch of different divisions, so there’s Middle School, then there’s Nine & Ten, and then there’s Eleven and Twelve…In each division, there’s a Full orchestra and a String Orchestra. The String is literally just like the instruments you would find in the orchestra room like: cello, base, viola, violin. Then the other one, Full Orchestra, there would be all those, plus band instruments, so it’s like an entire symphony, which is pretty cool. But really, [the division] is just instrumentation.”

How did it feel to go through the process of  auditioning?

Actually, like I said, there’s three rounds. The first one…I didn’t have to do that round because it was virtual last year, so they kind of bypassed it for people who made it last year. The second round was virtual, so basically we just submitted a video, and virtual ones are pretty easy because you just kinda get to do as many times as you want. I literally just set up in my living room, my brother record[ed] for me, and I just do it as many times as I need. Then the third round, this year, was in person at Westminster…It’s separated by instruments, so I was in the cello room. Then they call you back by your audition time. The first thing [you do] is you prepare different excerpts to play…for the judges, and that went pretty well, honestly. I was nervous but I just [had] to remind myself to take a deep breath. Then we have sight reading, which is something we have never seen before. They just kinda give you thirty seconds to look at it and then you just play. It’s definitely hard. That part was really rough for me because, I think, I had got[ten] super nervous. I hadn’t done it in a while. I didn’t breathe, and I was just kinda holding my breath. But you know, it’s ok. It’s not weighted as heavily as the excerpts are that you prepare, so it’s all good. Honestly, when I left, I didn’t think I did that well. I thought the sight reading is what killed me, but I guess the excerpts made up for it. I really didn’t think I would make it this year, but, I mean, hey, here we are.

What do you do in the program?

“I’m in string this year, so basically they gave us the music already. [The concert] is in March, so they give us the music about a month out. Then I just study the music. I usually listen to it on Youtube, trying to find out what I’m playing. It’s a three day event. We have a bunch of rehearsals., and then the concert is on the fifth of March this year, and it’s at UGA.”

How are you feeling?

“I’m very excited because last year, my Sophomore year was in person, and then my Junior year was virtual because of covid. So I’m really excited this year because, man, the virtual one, they tried, but it just wasn’t the same. So I’m really excited for it to be in person again.”

Although she felt she didn’t do well in some portions of the audition, Sydney clearly did an excellent job to obtain such a prestigious position. She is a talented person with even some wise words to adhere to.