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50 musicians tapped for all state
Programs' strength credited
Music WEB
All-state bassoonist Sven Mesihovic performs with the Riverwatch Middle School band Tuesday. - photo by Autumn Vetter

At a glance

The following students from the Forsyth County school system have been selected for the Georgia Music Educators’ Association All-State Bands and Orchestras:

Middle school


• Ben Conte, alto saxophone

• Kevin Flanagan, baritone

• Jack Kang, flute

• Alex McCarthy, trumpet


• Ismael Contreras, trombone

Little Mill

• Chris Shoffeitt, trombone


• Justin Ahn, clarinet

• Jarrad Dickey, trombone

• Erica Hertzberg, trombone

• Joowon Kim, bass clarinet

• Joo Young Lee, principal alto saxophone

• P.J. McBrayer, clarinet

• Sven Mesihovic, bassoon

• Ritwik Sathe, principal baritone saxophone

• Joe Sweeney, bass clarinet

• Kevin Tao, principal bass clarinet

• Stephanie Tian, flute

• Sean Turner, French horn

• Alternates: Amanda Lang, flute, and Thomas Rider, bass clarinet

High school


• Eugene Ahn, violin

• Alvin Ashlaw, principal tuba

• Hyeri Christina Bae, flute

• Blake Candebat, baritone

• Jonathan Craig, principal trombone

• Eun Cindy Kang, flute

• Bongjoon Lee, alto saxophone

• Mitchell Lee, violin

• Nicholas Martinez, percussion

• Joshua Pynn, principal bass clarinet

• YeJin Shin, violin

• Alternate: Alexandra Moore, bassoon

• Also: Jennifer and Tina Baek, both violin, and Jonathan Lim, cello, were selected for the 2013 Georgia Honor String Orchestra. This group will perform on April 13 at Centennial High School.


• Nick D’Amico, principal alto saxophone

• Aaron Strickland, oboe


• Sean Chua, flute

• Max Grand, principal baritone

• Austin Kim, tuba

• Sophia Lee, clarinet

• Kelsey Morton, bass clarinet

• Katie Renaslacis, flute

• Alternate: Brian Mobley, French horn


• Asher Bell, trumpet

• Melinda Benson, trumpet

• Daniel Carlson, principal alto saxophone

• Daniel Dotson, clarinet

• Jared Graham, baritone

• Thomas Kizzar, bass clarinet

• Abbey Tomlin, percussion

• Alternates: Cassidy Brown, oboe, and Jackson Swartzendruber, alto saxophone

Source: Forsyth County Schools

It was a record-breaking year for Forsyth County’s musicians as 50 middle and high school students were selected to the Georgia Music Educators’ Association All-State Bands and Orchestras.

That figure was 15 more than last year, when 35 students were selected.

Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans was pleased with the increase.

“Our schools have strong music programs, which are led by dedicated music teachers and supported by committed parents,” he said. “We congratulate these students on working hard to receive this recognition and wish them the best for their concert performances in March.”

All students were selected based on two separate auditions conducted at the district and state levels. They will perform a series of concerts March 2 in Savannah.

With 14 students selected as among the top players in the state for their age groups, Riverwatch had the strongest representation in both the county and state at the middle school level.

Matthew Koperniak, the school’s band director, said he’s proud of his students.

“They’re hard workers,” he said. “They are kids that started working in August … and worked diligently on a daily basis.

“[They] consistently put themselves in positions that were outside their comfort zone so when they got into the audition room of adults judging them, they were set up for success.”

While those 14 students excelled, Koperniak said their success is just one indicator of the skill level of the overall 420-member band.

“If only those 14 kids can play great, the band is going to sound really bad,” Koperniak said. “I think these kids all like being in band because they like playing music that resonates with them and it’s challenging and fun.

“There’s no bench in band, chorus or orchestra. Everyone is important.”

North Forsyth High didn’t have any students selected for all-state last year, but had two make the cut this year.

“It goes up and down around here,” said Raymond Thomas, North’s band director. “The school typically is represented well but it just depends on the year.

“We have a number of really talented kids, so I’m surprised that we don’t have more.”

For each grade level, there are two concert bands and one orchestra. In addition to performing under the direction of world renowned musicians, the students will have the chance to learn more about music through a variety of workshops.

According to Koperniak, it’s a great opportunity for students to enhance their skills. Even for those not planning to pursue music as a career, the opportunity of all-state, as well as just being part of a band, is a valuable tool to personal growth.

“It’s such an important skill set for the work force,” he said. “Most of these kids are not going onto music as a profession. but it’s the idea of working well with others, the idea of delayed gratification and basically critical thinking.”