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Sedona Red Rock High School recently performed well at the Arizona Music Educators Association High School All-Region Orchestra Auditions, held at Coconino High School in Flagstaff.

Senior Cosmo Illenberger especially stood out at the performance.


Illenberger not only took first violin section for the upcoming AZMEA regional music festival, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, he also qualified for All-State for both viola and violin.

The regional qualifiers have received their sheet music for the February show and Illenberger has been hard at work practicing. He has elected to play only the violin at the Regional competition.

“I spend at least a couple minutes a day on each excerpt,” he said.

Illenberger also competed at Regionals his freshman year, which he said was daunting, but said this year, knowing what he’s up against, the pressure has eased.

“Competition is super high,” he admitted, saying that there was little chance of someone making the cut who wasn’t quite skilled.

Illenberger has been playing the violin for a decade now, having started in the third grade. He has played the viola for two years, picking it up as a “side instrument.”

He said he has been privileged to learn more on his instruments through the SRRHS music program.

“Four years ago, there were only eight people in the orchestra class, now I believe we have 20. I’m really happy about that,” he said. “I think what we have is very valuable.”

Though he has received high marks for his work, he doesn’t see himself taking it up professionally.

“I’d like to keep it under my belt as a hobby and keep my skills up. Maybe to just get some money on the side,” he said.

Depending on the university he attends, though, Illenberger said he may try to play on scholarship. He is currently considering both Arizona State University and University of Arizona.

Illenberger said that while classical music may not be many youth’s first choice to listen to, he’s noticed those that do tend to be a bit more mature-minded in their appreciation and overall composure.

“I feel like everyone should listen to classical music. If you really pay attention to modern music, you can find some way it relates to either chord progression or melodies that were originally in classical music hundreds of years ago,” he said.

Much of the contemporary classical music heard today reaches its audience as the soundtrack to films. Illenberger said he doesn’t pay particular attention to too many individual composers but appreciates the music and said Hans Zimmer [“Interstellar,” “The Thin Red Line”] was a favorite of his.

“With all the film scores he’s done, I think he’s a genius,” he said.

Of the spectrum Illenberger plays, he said he is most fond of the Romantic period, as well as Celtic fiddle tunes and tangos. He added that most of the music he has been assigned to play has been enjoyable.

Visit the AZMEA website for more information on the Regional and State competitions.

String Theory
2016 All-Region Musicians from Sedona Red Rock High School:
Cosmo Illenberger, senior: First Violin
Naomi Skeer, senior: First Violin
Peter Hoyle, senior: Cello
Celeste Crowley, junior: First Violin
Anya Kulinchenko-Braun, freshman: Cello
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