Dakota band members to play with state’s best

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 5, 2015


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Two band members from Dakota High School have been selected to play with some of the top high school musicians from across Michigan.

Senior Meggan Pape and junior Allison Dettloff will be participating in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival from May 7-9 at Western Michigan University.

“It’s great to have two students from our school going,” Dakota band director Rob Abend said. “There’s not many schools that send anybody, let alone more than one person, especially with Allison going two years in a row.”

To earn spots at the festival, Pape and Dettloff had to play in two qualifying stages in which each participant performs their own selection. The first round took place in January, and the second stage was a state solo and ensemble festival held at Chippewa Valley High School on March 21.

The top scorers from state festivals held around Michigan were selected to participate in the Youth Arts Festival, which is an all-star type of event for Michigan high school musicians.

Pape, a French horn player since seventh grade, is one of 16 horn players to be picked, while Dettloff is one of eight bassoon players heading to the festival. There are approximately 350 students selected for the Youth Arts Festival band and orchestra.

“I think this is probably the highest honor for a student to get selected to do this. I think it’s the coolest thing to have a student selected for this,” Abend said.

For the first round of qualifying, Pape said she began preparing a piece for her solo ensemble this past August. She chose “Villanelle” by Dukas to play in her qualifying stages.

“I was looking for really challenging pieces. I knew I wanted challenge myself, and Youth Arts was my goal from the beginning,” Pape said. “I was looking for something really sweet and gentle because that’s the type of music I like to play. Once I heard that one, I knew that was the piece I wanted to play.”

Dettloff’s selection was “Premiere Solo” by Bordeaux. She originally planned to learn it as a summer assignment, but her instructor suggested playing it for the competitions since it was such a good piece.

“It’s a Romantic period piece, which is pretty fun to play because it’s very dramatic,” Dettloff said. “Going to MYAF is great, especially when you get there and you hear how good everybody is. Everybody is so much better than you; that’s the first impression you get when you get there. It’s really good to think you’re included in this group of amazing musicians.”

Pape and Detloff are also involved with other band programs at Dakota.

Pape, who will be majoring in veterinary technology while earning a minor in music at Michigan State University, is a member of Dakota’s pit orchestra, wind ensemble, winter guard and color guard.

Pape said that she hopes her experience in so many programs and events will help her land a dream role as part of a pit orchestra for a musical. She and Dettloff were able to play alongside professional string musicians for “West Side Story.”

“I loved the pit orchestra. That’s what I want to do someday,” Pape said. “I loved it. It was so much fun to work with professionals. Just in those few days, we were able to talk with them; they taught us a lot.”

Dettloff also participated in Dakota’s pit orchestra during the production of “West Side Story” this spring. She plays the flute in Dakota’s marching band.

Pape’s and Dettloff’s participation in the festival adds to a long list of accomplishments by Dakota band members this year.

Dakota’s wind ensemble was one of four schools selected statewide to play at the Michigan Music Conference in January. The ensemble performed a 45-minute program at the conference, which took place at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.

Dakota’s marching band participated in the Thanksgiving Day parade in downtown Detroit.

In March, all three Dakota bands received a Division 1 rating at the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association District Band Festival.