The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

Ready, Set, Play: All-State Band & Orchestra 2024

The Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band 2024 performance. Photo courtesy of Daniel Luo

Chamblee takes pride in its music department, and each year, our school sends several student musicians to the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band and All State-Orchestra, held at the Classic Center in Athens to unite with other students from around the state who are passionate about their instruments. All-State participants rehearse pieces together for a full day before putting on a performance the following day to conclude the event. This year from February 29 to March 2 nine orchestra students and one band student from Chamblee attended.

A student must pass two competitive rounds of auditions to be accepted into All-State, but the preparation needed to get in begins much earlier than the practice for the first audition.

“The first audition relies heavily on music that is prepared and practiced over and over again until it is perfect,” said Philip Barnard, Chamblee’s orchestra director. “And for the second round, the primary focus is playing music that is new to you on the fly. It is almost required to be taking private lessons from a private tutor for years to make All-State, so the preparation is a matter of years, not weeks or days or months.”

For Chamblee’s musicians, all of this preparation is worthwhile. Although All-State requires a lot of hard work – not only to get accepted, but also at the event itself – students find the experience incredibly rewarding.

“It was very tiring. On Friday, we had to play for around 13 hours. It was just a whole day of rehearsal. It was really fun though. I got to meet a lot of very talented musicians,” said Daniel Luo (‘24), cello player and second-time All-State attendee.

To some students, one of the most enjoyable parts of All-State is getting to reunite with musical friends and acquaintances from across Georgia and meeting new people. 

“I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time, like people who used to be in [the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra], and I got to meet a lot of people. I feel like the breaks are the best part because you get a chance to just hang out with people,” said Carol Li (‘24), violinist and concertmaster for Chamblee’s orchestra.

Chamblee students in Athens, Georgia, for GMEA All-State Band and All-State Orchestra 2024. Photo courtesy of Daniel Luo

The Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO) is one of several other non-school-affiliated opportunities for student musicians to participate in. Ensembles such as youth orchestras allow students to play a wider variety of pieces with others who are interested in music.

“A lot of students in the school orchestra and band are involved in some of the civic youth orchestras that are in Metropolitan Atlanta,” said Barnard. The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, which is a part of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra, which is a part of Emory University, are very prestigious. And then we have a lot of students here at Chamblee who are involved in the DeKalb Youth Symphony Orchestra, which we happen to host here at school once a week, and I’m also the director for that.”

Being in the school band or orchestra benefits students when it comes to auditioning and preparing for competitive ensembles such as All-State for more reasons than having the guidance of the directors.

“There’s a little bit of friendly competition to make it, to see how you stack up not just around the state but with your peers and your friends and your frenemies that might be in the Chamblee orchestra. But there is some camaraderie in working together on the preparation. After school, when kids are practicing for All-State, they will practice together, and it does form some bonds,” said Barnard.

In addition to playing in their respective groups (band or orchestra) at All-State, students also performed in a combined ensemble.

“As an orchestra student, it was cool to play a different repertoire with the band and also just to listen to other groups,” said Gia Choy (‘26), violinist and third-time All-State participant.

As the All-State ensembles consist of some of the best student musicians in the state, participating in this event is a highly rewarding experience.

“My favorite part is just playing with the orchestra. It sounds much better than any other orchestra I’ve played with,” said Luo.

The following Chamblee High School students got into and participated in the 2024 GMEA All-State Band or Orchestra.


  • Cora Scherrer (‘26): flute


  • Diya Vacha (‘27): violin
  • Neil Daniel (‘27): violin
  • Avery Wright (‘26): viola
  • Gia Choy (‘26): violin
  • An-Ying Xu (‘25): cello
  • Ethan Huang (‘25): bass
  • Daniel Luo (‘24): cello
  • Isabelle Coursey (‘24): cello
  • Carol Li (‘24): violin
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About the Contributor
Lyvia Huang
Lyvia Huang, Editor
Lyvia Huang (‘25) is a junior and an editor of the Blue & Gold. In five years, she hopes to be in college, working on something she’s passionate about. Three of her favorite things are New York City, concerts, and boba.

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