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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Highlands High School Student Violinist Participates in All-National Honors Ensemble

By Jessica Stringfield-Eden

It is not everyday that you hear about a local high school student participating in a nationally recognized event but a few weeks ago, Keely Reitman, a 16 year old violinist from Highlands High School, did just that at the All-National Honors Ensemble.

The All-National Honors Ensemble is presented by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) which is one of the world’s largest arts education organizations. NAfME advocates for music education at local, state and national levels and boasts over 60,000 members. The All-National Honors Ensemble took place from Nov. 25 - 28 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, and featured only a select number of 550 students from 49 states and territories.

So, how was Keely selected? Lots of hard work.

Keely, who began playing violin in 7th grade, practices 2-5 hours a day (usually 5-6 hours a day in the summer) and is also a part of the Highlands Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Kentucky School of Music Sinfonia and the Cincinnati Symphony Concert Orchestra. She is dedicated and motivated to playing and tackled her video audition head-on for the All-National Honors Ensemble by devoting many hours after school and working closely with her teacher Kathy Anderson on two different audition pieces.

The entire process leading up to the All-National Honors Ensemble has meant so much to Keely and her mother Liz. “This has opened up a whole new world for us. I am not musical but she has found her calling for life. She went from never playing to playing on a national stage,” said Liz. “We’ve met incredible people and the right people have fallen into our laps. Kathy Anderson has been incredible in realizing that Keely needs more to move forward so she also has a private teacher from the Symphony Orchestra.”

Once accepted into the Ensemble, Keely and Anderson tackled the challenging music for the ensemble performance. This proved difficult as Haitian conductor, Dr. Jean Montès, had chosen complex pieces which were arranged by other Haitian composers and differ from other arrangements. Through a collaborative effort, Keely’s private instructors, Anderson and Keely were able to master the arrangement...but it wasn’t easy. “Keely also had an audition for Orchestra Chair for the Ensemble and an All State audition in the same week,” said Liz.

“There was a lot of preparation, lots of practicing music she was unfamiliar with but somehow we made it through!”

For the Symphony Orchestra portion of the All-National Honors Ensemble, Dr. Montès chose a theme of “Peace, Love, and Music”. Keely participated in a piece called “The Red Cape Tango” which received a standing ovation.

Keely was so intimidated at first because a lot of the other students there were already Juilliard students...she started to think she didn’t belong,” said Liz.

“But - after talking with some of the other instrumentalists, she realized she did belong and this experience opened up a world of possibilities for her.”

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