THS Students Make History with National Orchestra Acceptances


Gia Shin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Tenafly High School has achieved yet another feat in the music department with not one but two students receiving acceptances to the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honors Ensemble. Violinist Hannah Park (’22) and violist Angelina Lee (’23) are the first in THS history to receive this recognition.

“I’ve been here for 18 years [but] we’ve never had anyone make [the] All-National orchestra,” Jim Millar, THS music teacher, said. “All-National is not something that’s happened before, so I’m really proud of these guys.” Both Park and Lee’s involvement in orchestras began when they were in elementary school. Park played the violin in the Bergen Youth Orchestra starting at nine years old, and Lee played the viola in the New Jersey Arco Orchestra. Both picked up their instruments at an early age and have persistently made progress over the years.

Making it to the All-National Ensemble, “by definition, [means] we did well at all the other steps like Region [and] All-State, which is why we were able to place at Nationals,” Park said. “It’s rewarding because I feel like it’s a culmination of [all my] past efforts.” Reaching the All-National Ensemble isn’t a one-step finish line; it takes several levels to reach the achievement. First, Park and Lee had to make it into the North Jersey School Music Association (NJSMA) Region I Orchestra. Mandatory rehearsals often take place in towns far away and even bleed into the school day. “It took a lot of time; we had to drive back and forth to rehearsals which took [several] hours,” Lee said. “We missed school, too, [because it overlapped with rehearsals] and it was really difficult to balance that with our school life and personal life. It took up a lot of energy and on top of that, we had to practice separately for hours a week in order to stay committed and motivated.”

“I think it proves that we dedicated a lot of time to our instruments throughout the school year,” Park added. “All these NAfME steps are during the school year: for example, the auditions for Regionals were during the school year. It shows that our progress didn’t just come immediately and it kept on progressing throughout the school year, which is more difficult than it sounds.” Park, who was also involved in the Regional Orchestra since middle school, was concertmaster of the All-State Orchestra in her freshman year, allowing her to qualify for the All-National auditions this year. Similarly, Lee has been a member of the Regional Orchestra since 7th grade. This year, she made the All-State Orchestra as the principal viola chair.  Only members who made it past Regionals and All-State have the opportunity to advance to the highly competitive All-National Orchestra.

The orchestra was originally set to take place in San Diego, California, but due to COVID-19 concerns, rehearsals remain virtual. “Usually, it would be in Florida, which is extra rewarding because there is a free trip bonus to it. But I think the essence of the education still persists,” Park said. “They’ve worked really hard and unfortunately, this year it’s all virtual, which is a shame,” Millar added. “However, it’s certainly an experience that few kids have. I’m really proud.”