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(Music) note-worthy: First DLHS student in six years makes it into All-State band

Laker sophomore Grant Fritch-Gallatin has made it into Minnesota's All-State band. He is the first Detroit Lakes High School student in six years to be accepted into the prestigious program.

All-State is offered through the Minnesota Music Educators Association. Top brass (pun intended) music students from all over the state go through a rigorous audition process in hopes of being selected, and competition is tight.

"This is the highest honor in the state of Minnesota that a (band) student can get," said Tim Siewert, DLHS band director. "It's a big deal."

Fritch-Gallatin found out just last week that he was accepted into the program. He plays the euphonium, a brass instrument that looks a lot like a tuba but is pitched higher like a trombone.

"I'm feeling really good, really good," he said just days after finding out the big news. "I put a lot of time into it."

To prepare, Fritch-Gallatin stayed after school every night of the week for months to practice his scales and solo audition pieces, and those pieces are designed to be quite challenging. He worked on his own as well as a little bit with Siewert, and also took lessons via Skype from a professional euphonium player in the Twin Cities.

"He worked for hours and hours on his audition," said Siewert. "Grant is a very gifted musician. He was very motivated—self-motivated—and spent a lot of time in the practice room on his own. This was his goal, to be in the All-State band; he was very determined to make it."

A pianist since the age of five, Fritch-Gallatin started playing the euphonium in fifth grade. He's also a singer, and will be participating in the Lutheran All-State choir this summer in addition to the All-State band. The Lutheran choir is one of two All-State choirs in Minnesota.

Fritch-Gallatin considers himself an all-around musician and he said his goal is "to audition for everything I can" so he can have as many musical experiences as possible and learn all he can to "get as good as I can" while still in high school. After graduation, he wants to join a military band.

The All-State band program consists of an intensive week-long music camp at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in early August, followed by a midwinter reunion performance in February in front of a live audience at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Fritch-Gallatin and other All-State symphonic band members will be working with conductor Travis Cross, who is the associate director of bands at UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles) as well as a composer. Siewert said the DLHS band has played some of Cross's music before, so his students are familiar with him.

Fritch-Gallatin will likely learn a lot from Cross during All-State band camp, but he suspects his fellow band members will be his main source of musical camaraderie and inspiration.

"I'm mostly excited to meet other kids my age who have the same passion as I do," he said. "I've gone to another music camp in Bemidji the past couple of summers, and it's just a way to meet other kids who also enjoy it, and to be able to work with professionals. It's just a different environment than in high schools, where people are going into all different fields."

Siewert estimates that several hundred best-of-the-best band students from around Minnesota apply to the All-State program each year, and of those, only about 150 are accepted. He's hoping other DLHS students will see Fritch-Gallatin's success and be inspired to try out for the program themselves in the future.

"I'm hoping that this is just the start of more kids getting into All-State," Siewert said. "I'm hoping other kids' interest will be sparked by this."

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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