Gunnery's Sutherland performs in Florida

The Gunnery in Washington has announced junior Drew Sutherland of Southbury recently performed as part of the 2019 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honor Choir as a tenor.

The concert, held Nov. 9 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., featured performances by the NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles, which represent the top performing high school musicians in the United States.

Sutherland was one of 550 all-state musicians chosen from across the country by way of video auditions for the exclusive performance.

The program featured six NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles — a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed choir, jazz ensemble, guitar ensemble and modern band — each under the leadership of top conductors in the field of music education.

To perform at the national level, students must first audition for and be accepted to perform at the regional and state levels.

A member of The Gunnery Vocal Ensemble, Sutherland auditioned last fall and was selected, along with fellow Gunnery students and altos Aris Wang of the class of 2020 and Yolanda Wang of the class of 2021, to perform in the Northern Region Chorus at the Connecticut Music Educators Association’s Northern Region Music Festival in January 2019.

Fom there, Sutherland advanced to the All-State Chorus, performing at the CMEA All-State Festival in Hartford in February.

That performance qualified him to audition for the All-National Honor Choir in May.

He was the only Gunnery student selected to perform in any of the 2019 NAfME ensembles.

“There were about 240 students in the choir. It was awesome,” said Ron Castonguay, director of the arts, who attended the concert and served as a judge for alto saxophone. “The ensembles rehearsed for two and a half days and they put on a concert Saturday night. It was amazing.”

The All-National Honor Choir was directed by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, a visiting professor and conductor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

There is a chance that Sutherland could perform in the All-National Honor Choir in his senior year, along with another Gunnery student.

He and Yolanda, an alto, auditioned Nov. 2 and were again selected to perform in the Northern Regional Chorus.

That performance will be part of the CMEA Northern Region High School Festival Jan 17-18 at New Britain High School.