RC sophomore named to prestigious orchestra

Andrew Heavirland, 16, recognized as first student in Rush City school history to earn seat on All State Orchestra

Rush City sophomore Andrew Heavirland practicing his bassoon in the band room at Rush City High School. He recently earned a seat in the Minnesota All State Orchestra. Photo by Jon Tatting
Rush City sophomore Andrew Heavirland practicing his bassoon in the band room at Rush City High School. He recently earned a seat in the Minnesota All State Orchestra.
Photo by Jon Tatting

When 16-year-old Andrew Heavirland sets his mind to something, particularly in music, he practices seemingly to no end.

Such was the case in January when this high school sophomore began to rehearse for his biggest audition yet. A few months later, he was rewarded for his efforts while making history at Rush City High School.

The school community has been congratulating Heavirland in recent weeks for becoming the first Rush City student to earn a seat aboard the prestigious Minnesota All State Orchestra. A bassoonist, he joined more than a thousand other 10th- and 11th-grade band students statewide in auditioning for one of three All State ensembles.

In August, Heavirland will attend the weeklong All State camp, hosted this year by the College of St. Benedict, under the direction of University of Michigan professor Anthony Elliot. The All State groups will meet again in February for a public performance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Heavirland submitted his recorded audition on March 20 after practicing at least two hours a day after school in the high school band room. Carvel Kuehn, Rush City High’s instrumental music director, announced the good news in the last week of April, when he played a video of last year’s All State Orchestra for his students.

“It was a very, very happy day for me; I had no words,” Heavirland said. “We didn’t think I’d make it this year.”

Added classmate Tessa Clifford, who plays the flute in their school’s ensemble: “He was shaking. His face was red, and I couldn’t stop smiling. He’s my best friend, and I was just as excited and happy as he was.”

Also proud is Kuehn, who introduced the All State opportunity to Heavirland and his classmates.

“I knew it was something Andrew would want to do,” he said. “It’s a program I was involved in high school.”

Andrew Heavirland with Carvel Kuehn, instrumental band director at Rush City High School.
Andrew Heavirland with Carvel Kuehn, instrumental band director at Rush City High School.

Kuehn noted he was named to the 2003-04 All State Orchestra as a junior at Centennial High School. The experience had a profound impact on him, as it helped solidify his career choice.

“It’s where I realized I wanted to be a music teacher,” he said. “My All State director that year challenged each and every one of us to pursue teaching music, and I let him know when I was in college (for teaching).”

Kuehn has had students audition for the All State Orchestra ever year since he joined Rush City Schools in 2010. A highly competitive program consisting of two concert bands and an orchestra, roughly 300 students make it out of the 2,000 or so who audition, he explained.

“All State should be a goal students work toward,” Kuehn stressed. “It takes hard work, and (rehearsing for) the audition is very time consuming.”

Heavirland can attest to the labor involved.

“It makes you work,” he said of mastering the different rhythms, dynamics and overall musicality of a piece. “And everything has to be perfect. It takes a lot of time to get it the way you want it. My goal was how I could perform it at the tempo they (All State officials) desired.”

Early beginnings, future aspirations

While he doesn’t come from a family with a heavy musical background, Heavirland admits it was from watching the movie “Fantasia 2000” at 5 or 6 years old that first piqued his interest in the art form.

“It had a big impact on me; I must have watched it about 5,000 times,” he said. “I always remembered the songs in that movie.”

He recalls his excitement over joining band as a trombonist in sixth grade, which is the starting grade for band students in the district. In eighth grade, he switched to the baritone saxophone, and then he settled on the bassoon last spring.

“I’m entirely self taught,” said Heavirland of the progress he made on the woodwind from the day he was given a method book from Kuehn. “I picked up the bassoon because I wanted to play an orchestral instrument. I learned the fingerings and I played the instrument for three hours the first night.”

This year, he joined the high school’s wind ensemble and accepted director nominations to play in honor bands at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Augsburg College and a third at the conference level. He gained further experience last summer by participating on a wind ensemble at the Schell Lake Art Center in Schell Lake, Wis.

In addition to the All State Orchestra, Heavirland plans to audition for the Minnesota Youth Symphonies and is taking private lessons from John Miller, a bassoon professor at the University of Minnesota and the principal bassoon for the Minnesota Orchestra.

“It’s been very helpful, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” he said, crediting Kuehn for arranging the lessons.

Above all, Heavirland added, “I want to thank my friends, family and Mr. Kuehn for all of their support.”

When asked about his future, Heavirland said he already has decided he will go to college for music. In fact, he’s pondering the possibility of double majoring in bassoon performance and music education. His dream is to one day attend a conservatory-style college where he can learn from and work with some of the best musicians in the industry.

Heavirland will be performing alongside his classmates at the Rush City Senior High Pops concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 16.

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