Music student sings his way into state festival

Ander Edens was quite vocal about landing a spot in the state music festival. Literally.

The Wrangell High School sophomore submitted a singing audition to the Alaska All-State Music Festival with some uncertainty, but was good enough to land in the top percentage of students who made the cut.

Edens is only the fourth student selected from Wrangell in the past 15 years for the state concert, which takes place on Nov. 19 in Anchorage. He's also the only male student selected on the local level in that time, said music teacher Tasha Morse.

"We recorded his audition after school, and we submitted it through a website that they have," she said. "They hire out adjudicators from all over to listen to them. ... I'm not 100% sure the score they have to hit, but it's the top percentage of kids that get selected. I think there are 13 Bass 2s this year."

Edens, who also plays the saxophone, auditioned as a Bass 2 singer with a little trepidation.

"I was a little uncertain, but there are so many great singers in Alaska," Edens said. "Knowing I got selected was a big relief."

That relief comes with a lot of work, including memorizing 70 pages of music. "What I've mostly been doing is listening to the songs and then singing may part along with the recording" to prepare, he said.

Though Edens has been practicing on his own, he hasn't been able to practice with Morse yet, as they didn't find out he was selected while Morse, Edens and senior Paige Baggen were attending Honors Fest in Haines the last week of October.

"Two of the songs are 20 pages each," Morse said. "It's a choral piece. Each one has four parts of singing. ... It's not incredibly long, it's a standard size, but it's still a lot of music to memorize."

There are about seven songs all-state students will need to memorize before performing.

Morse was supportive of Edens' aspirations but didn't want to get his expectations up going into the auditioning process, she said.

"I told him when he was auditioning, 'I have high hopes. I think you have a good chance of making it, but I don't want to give you false hope. It's state. It's a high level of achievement that needs to be reached. I think you have it in you, just let's be hopeful and see where it goes.'"

Edens, who comes from a musical family, is passionate about the craft but isn't sure if he will pursue it as a career. He's looked into it and said he'll see "what it evolves into."

"I always tell the music kids, you don't have to go into music to participate in music," Morse said.

The All-State Music Festival gala performance is scheduled for Nov. 19 at West Anchorage High School. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for students seventh through 12th grades and free to seniors 65 years and older and kids sixth grade and under. For more information, visit


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