1968 – Present
Are you an alumni student, staff or conductor of the acclaimed WSMA High School State Honors Music Project? Do you know someone who is?
WSMA is collecting lifetime memories to include in our celebration of the 50th anniversary and we want alumni to share… Where are you now? How did honors impact your life? Do you have a special photo, memory or testimonial? (Selfie videos are encouraged!)
Please share your memories by going to the High School State Honors Memories Collection.
“My honors experience still marks the best and most memorable musical moment of my life. It was spiritual—inspiring me to intern for and eventually join the WSMA staff. Now I am honored to help provide this experience to as many students as possible.” – Anne Proescholdt, Honors Band 2007 and current WSMA program associate
“I had been considering a career in music, but after my honors experience I knew that I wanted to be a band teacher. From auditioning to performing, the experience made me realize how powerful music is, how to always strive for the best, and how music brings amazing people together.” – Rachel Adams O’Donnell, 1994 Honors Band
“When I was asked to serve as a section coach for the Mixed Choir (2016 & 2017), I was so glad to be able to “give back” a little to this program that so positively impacted my life. It was a very gratifying and validating experience to be on the other side of the equation, helping passionate young singers pursue excellence, affirm their sense of contribution, teamwork, and leadership, and express themselves through great choral music. And the friendships I made with the students and colleagues I met were equally meaningful; MORE memories to last a lifetime!” – Brad Burrill, 1987 Mixed Choir, 2016 & 2017 Mixed Choir Section Coach, current Wausau West HS choir director
“To be part of a group whose combined passions were focused on preparing and sharing music in a professional manner was a definite catalyst to my pursuing music as my career. Sharing and learning from one another as young people as well as from an esteemed line up of music professionals at that time was exhilarating and deeply rewarding on many levels.” – Diana Marie Iorio, 1979 & 1980 State Honors Orchestras
“Singing in the 1970 WSMA Honors Choir was the start to a career in music education. Singing with the best singers in Wisconsin gave me the encouragement and confidence to study vocal music at Milton College. From 1975-2011, I led a fulfilling career in sharing my passion for choral music with students in grades 5-12. I directed the Green Bay Boy Choir from 1992-1997 and the Green Bay Children’s Choir 1997-2002.
The honors project has become apart of my family. My son sang in the choir for two years and my daughter played in the orchestra for two years. I also served on the Middle Level Honors staff. It is clear that the Honor Project has had a valuable impact on my life. Thanks for 50 years – keep going!” – David Wickert, 1970 Honors Choir
“As a junior in high school, I decided to major in music education and become a music teacher. The Honors experience most certainly added to my musical inspiration and exposed me to an excellent conductor, musicians, and memorable literature. I met a fine clarinet player named Jill Kortum who was also in the honors band… little did I know, she would later transfer to UW-Madison (where I was also a student). We dated and have now been married for 35 years. Jill also graduated with a Music Education degree and retired from teaching after 30 years. She is a clarinetist with the Sheboygan and Manitowoc Symphony and earned her Doctorate in Clarinet Performance from UW-Madison.” – Brian and Jill Hanes, 1976 Band
“The level of confidence I gained has benefited me throughout my life, both as a musician and a professional. It showed that working hard in such a short period of time with so many strangers could produce the most magnificent performance. I still am able to use that in my everyday life.
My wife is also an alum of the Honors project. We can’t be more proud to have our son have this awesome experience!” – William Daley, 1975 Mixed Choir; parent of Matthew Daley, 2018 Orchestra
“Auditioning for and singing in the State Honors Choir were defining moments in my high school experience. I will always remember the magic that happened on that stage in Madison, WI. The soloists…our director, Rick Bjella, and his brother who played in the string quartet…and of course, the music.
I still remember all the songs we learned and how hard we worked to get them to sound just right. I went on to study music, and am now in my 13th year of teaching middle and high school choirs!” – Christina Burgess Conn, 1999 Mixed Choir
“The Honors experience was truly life changing. I made so many new friends that I still am in contact with and worked with not only fantastic national conductors, but high quality section coaches as well. My tenor section coaches as well as the rest of the honors staff that I have met have inspired me to pursue music education as a career, and my friends from Honors have continued to help fuel my passion for music. It’s always really good to reconnect with a lot of my honors friends at Solo & Ensemble and other music events throughout the year around the state.” – Alex Steinhaus, 2016 & 2017 Mixed Choir