Two OHS students earn invite to all-state music conference

ContributedOneonta High School Senior Zen Lavin, Choral Director Megan Dyer and Senior Liam Flynn are shown at OHS in this undated photograph. 

Two Oneonta High School seniors will be attending the New York State School Music Association’s all-state conference this fall.

Liam Flynn and Zen Lavin, who were among 900 accepted into the conference out of 9,000 who auditioned, will perform in the mixed choir.

The all-state bands, choruses, orchestras and jazz ensembles are honors groups consisting of the top students from school music departments across the state.

Megan Dyer, the high school’s choir director, said that while Oneonta typically has one student going to NYSSMA all-state, it is “quite unique” to have two people make it from “our little school.”

It is customary for those who get accepted into NYSSMA to have had private lessons, Dyer said, but Flynn and Lavin are prepared by the school’s music program.

Dyer said that Flynn and Lavin “have both been wonderful, incredibly passionate kids about everything they do,” and that other students look up to them.

“They’ve got so much spirit and passion,” Dyer said. “They are leaders.”

Outside of singing in the school’s choir, Lavin is involved in multiple Orpheus Theatre productions. Flynn is the bassist and co-singer in the rock n’ roll cover band Uncle John and the Turtles and is on the school’s track team.

Auditions were in spring. To be accepted, students must receive a perfect score during their audition, which requires singing a solo and sight-reading a piece of music.

This was Flynn’s third time auditioning for the conference. He said each year he was encouraged to return because the comments improved his singing.

“The judges leave a lot of notes and constructive criticism that helped take my vocal ability to the next level,” Flynn said. “This time I knew I nailed it.”

He advised all student musicians to audition.

“Always do it, every year. You get much better, you’d be surprised,” Flynn said. “Some are too scared to try, thinking that the judges will criticize them too much, but really they help and it’s a wonderful experience.”

Flynn said he plans to pursue music and being involved in the all-state choir will “definitely help.”

“It’s life-changing for these kids to do this,” Dyer said. 

Lavin could not be reached before publication time.

The conference will take place in Rochester from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at (607) 441-7218 or . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .

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