Mr. Millar Conducts All-State Orchestra


Gia Shin and Seihyun (Shawn) Lee

On November 20, 2022, the All-State Orchestra performed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), signifying the end to their months of hard work. This year’s All-State ensemble was particularly special as Mr. James Millar, Tenafly High School’s choir and orchestra director, was the concert conductor.

Millar had conducted many All-State Orchestra rehearsals over the past four years, “but never in concert until now,” he said. In addition to performing at the NJPAC, the All-State Orchestra performed in Atlantic City.

One of the pieces performed was “Danzón No. 2” by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez, which is one of the most popular Mexican contemporary compositions. The All-State’s performance featured a clapping segment in which the performers utilized claps as an instrument. “One of the great conductors Gustavo Dudamel has a YouTube video on this piece,” Millar said. “He put in clapping, and I loved it, so I did it too.”

There were about 130 students in the orchestra, and around 250 in the chorus. In order to qualify for All-States, students must audition and participate in the NJSMA Regional Orchestra. This year, a total of six THS students participated at the All-State level. “My experience here at All-State has been wonderful,” Gabe Gutierrez (’23), a participant in the mixed choir, said. “I do think the people here are fantastic and the staff here are just full [of] passion and I really appreciate the time that I have here.” Sophomore Lunette Shaw added: “At NJPAC, being able to look out at the crowd made me feel really proud of what we were able to accomplish in a few rehearsals.”

“Loved every minute of the experience,” Millar said. “There were difficulties [along the way] and it was hard, but it was so much fun.”

Students who have performed in All-State Orchestra this year have the opportunity to advance to the 2023 NAFME All-Eastern Honors Ensembles. This year, Sarah Lee (’24) will be participating in the All-Eastern with the help of Mr. Millar. Millar hopes that Tenafly High School’s involvement in this year’s All-State Orchestra performance will inspire other musically-inclined students to participate in the future.