Waconia High School senior Colin Swee defied recent traditions by making the Minnesota All-State Band on trombone this year.
“When I made it in, I initially didn’t believe it,” Swee said. “No one (from Waconia) had made it into the band for several years running.”
The All-State Band is a highly competitive, audition-only group that draws members from across the metropolitan area and the state and invites those talented individuals to a week-long camp at the beginning of August, held on the campus of the University of Minnesota – Duluth. The chance to meet and play with some of the state’s top musicians was an honor for Swee.
“The camp was amazing getting to play with all of the most talented kids from around the state,” he said.
While the rehearsals may have been long and sometimes tedious, Swee said there was also plenty of fun to be had.
“My favorite part was the talent show some kids took part in,” he said. “As you can imagine there were some pretty talented kids that put on absolutely amazing and hilarious acts!”
The camp is the only group rehearsal the students will have until the All-State Concerts, which will be Feb. 13-15. Programs pieces include “Portrait of Freedom” (Steven Reineke), “October” (Eric Whitacre), “Manin Veen” (Haydn Wood), “Lauds” (Ron Nelson), and “Semper Fidelis March” (John Philip Sousa).
Swee has participated in several other honor bands around the state and was a section leader for the WHS Marching Band this summer. He is also a member of various WHS instrumental groups, as well as the Conservation Club.
Like many of his WHS bandmates, Swee has been playing since the fifth grade and he still plays for the pure fun of it.
“I continue to play because it is such a great way to detach from stress,” he said. “Music for me is just plain fun. It provides a relief to any stress of the day and gives me a sense of being part of something bigger than myself.”
Friends and upperclassmen mentors have made participating in the band programs worthwhile and meaningful for Swee. He said all the Waconia band directors and upperclassmen, especially when he was a younger instrumentalist, have really inspired him.
“Specifically upperclassmen, to me, who have kept me wanting to keep playing and get better have been Nick Allen, my marching band section leader back when I was in eighth grade, and Michael Zajac, a good friend of mine who I played with a lot moving up through high school. Another factor that I attribute my wanting to stay in music has been having such a large friend group in the band program that constantly pushes each other to get better and have fun doing it.”
Swee’s favorite composers include Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (a Russian 19th century composer) and John Mackey, a modern composer.
Swee was given the opportunity to play, and in February will perform, one of his favorite pieces, “October” by Eric Whitacre.
“I love how layered the parts are and how great the melodies sound throughout the piece,” he said.
Contact Melissa Marohl at firstname.lastname@example.org