Music in Her Soul: Westtown School Clarinetist Emily Blackman Named to All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra

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Westtown School junior Emily Blackman has been chosen to participate in the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on Sunday, June 24. Students from all over the country auditioned for the festival, and the nation’s top-ranking high school musicians have been selected for spots in orchestra, band, jazz band and choir. Out of this already-elite group, the best wind players are assigned to the orchestra, and Emily was one of only two clarinetists awarded this coveted placement.

Emily Blackman

I am incredibly honored to participate in the National Orchestra. I practiced extremely hard for this opportunity, and I'm so glad my work paid off.

Westtown School junior Emily Blackman has been chosen to participate in the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on Sunday, June 24.

Students from all over the country auditioned for the festival, and the nation’s top-ranking high school musicians have been selected for spots in orchestra, band, jazz band and choir. Out of this already-elite group, the best wind players earned placement in the orchestra, and Emily was one of only two clarinetists - from a possible pool of 50,000 - awarded this prized placement.

Westtown, a pre-K – 12 college prep school with day and boarding options, is located in West Chester, PA. The school, founded by Quakers in 1799, has an international student body of 700 students. Performing arts are an integral part of Westtown’s curriculum, and they receive continued priority despite cutbacks in similar programs elsewhere. Creative expression, leadership and collaboration are among the skills and competencies reinforced by the arts, ones that Westtown emphasizes in recognition of their importance to graduates as they go on to college and careers.

Emily Blackman’s growth as a musician has been steady and rapid since she began her studies on clarinet as a 4th grader in Westtown’s Lower School. In her sophomore year, Emily was one of the youngest musicians to earn spots in district and state music ensembles. This year she made it into every possible honors ensemble in the state: District Band, District Orchestra, Region Band, Region Orchestra, and All State Wind Ensemble. In nearly all of these, Emily was the top-ranked player, "the best of the best," according to Westtown Director of Instrumental Music Robert Frazier.

Emily, who is interested in pursuing both music and biology in college, says music is her greatest passion - writing it, learning it, playing it. "It's a great way to express myself and it allows me to take a break from the stresses of school." She continues, "I am so incredibly honored to participate in the National Orchestra, and I couldn't have achieved it without the help of my music teachers here at Westtown. I practiced extremely hard for this opportunity, and I'm so glad my work paid off."

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