VHHS musicians advance to ILMEA


Three VHHS and two LHS students take a selfie upon arriving to ILMEA

This year, seven students from Vernon Hills High School were selected to participate in the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) All State performance groups, exclusively for the best of best student musicians in Illinois.

For months, fine arts students from VHHS memorized songs, practiced them for hours, and studied their music in and out to prepare for their recorded musical auditions. They initially auditioned for District, an opportunity to sing with musicians in Lake County. After District, their video auditions were reevaluated and the students were chosen for All State.

Anika Urbonas (Voice, she/her, 12)

It was Anika Urbonas’ second time auditioning for ILMEA. In 2020, she sang virtually with the District and All State ensembles. This year, she sang in-person with District back in October 2021, but chose not to attend All State in January 2022 due to Covid-19 concerns.

“I made a District, and that was a magical experience hearing everyone sound so beautiful, so I wanted to go to All State because I knew that would sound even better,” Urbonas said.

Urbonas felt that all of her hard work and audition preparations finally paid off, and now she truly believes that she is good at singing.

“When I got the recordings of the District songs, I listened to them like I listen to songs on Spotify,” said Urbonas.

Neil Mehta (Voice, he/him, 12)

Neil Mehta sang in-person at District and All State Honors, a more advanced All State choir, his sophomore year and had a wonderful time performing with both of the ensembles again.

“I was singing amongst some of the best singers in our District,” Mehta said.

He expressed his excitement to sing with this group of musicians.

“The choir was really powerful and something that you can find around your normal community,” said Mehta.

Mehta has been reading music and singing from a young age, so it did not take him long to prepare for his audition. He also expressed that without motivation from Mr. Little, he would not have been aware of All State.

“It really made me want to do choir more in the future, as well as in college,” Mehta said.

Noah Kim (Violin, he/him, 10)

Sophomore Noah Kim has been playing the violin and piano for most of his life. This year, he auditioned for ILMEA with his violin.

At District, Kim was excited to hear every musician come together.

“It was cool because the wind section was so good,” Kim said.

While Kim is used to playing with the VHHS orchestra or alone on the piano, he expressed that it was a new and interesting experience to perform with different people from all over Lake County that he wouldn’t normally play with.

Unfortunately, Kim could not attend All State due to a different musical performance, but he is planning on auditioning next year as well.

Kaylee Kim (Violin, she/her, 10)

Kaylee Kim loved her experience at District this year and felt that it was a unique experience to play with other musicians in her District and hear all of the other instruments play with her.

Kim had the opportunity to do ILMEA as a freshman and was interested in auditioning again this year.

Kim enjoyed playing with her friends and meeting new people. She has a lot of experience with music, as she has been playing the violin for thirteen years, so it did not take her long to memorize her audition pieces.

Kim hoped that her experience at All State would be just as great as District, and she can gladly say she enjoyed it.

John Lee (Violin, he/him, 11)

John Lee was inspired to audition for ILMEA when his older friends told him that it was a memorable and fun experience.

Like Kaylee Kim and Noah Kim, it did not take long for Lee to learn his music.

“I’ve been playing the violin for 11 years,” said Lee.

He explained that his audition was only forty measures of two different pieces, but for the actual performance, he and the other musicians needed to rehearse new songs for almost thirteen hours.

Lee was looking forward to hearing the wind section and all of the other instruments come together at All State.

Jeffrey Broms (Double Bass, he/him, 11)

Jeffrey Broms had a great time at his first All State after performing double bass with the honors orchestra.

After performing at District his freshman and sophomore year, he couldn’t wait for All State.

“District is always fun, but this year is my first true (in person) experience with the District symphony since the middle school level,” said Broms.

Broms is involved in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Philharmonic outside of school, so he was excited to meet even more musicians from all over Illinois at All State.

“I met a lot of great musicians and we all exchanged tips… Everyone is trying to help everyone else improve,” he said.

Broms greatly enjoyed his performances with ILMEA and other musicians around Illinois. He encouraged all VHHS students involved in Fine Arts to audition because it feels very rewarding in the end.