Four WVHS musicians selected to All-State ensembles


Four WVHS musicians selected to All-State ensembles

September 13, 2023

The hills are alive with the sounds of WVHS musicians nailing their NYSSMA solos!

Congratulations WVHS performing arts standouts Conner Price, Kayla Ludovicy, Ben Poka and Zoe Link for being selected to the 2023 NYSSMA All-State Winter Conference ensembles.

l-r: Ben Poka, Kayla Ludovicy, Conner Price (Zoe Link not pictured)

Based on their stellar NYSSMA solo performance scores, the four Warwick musicians were selected to participate in the 87th Annual NYSSMA Winter Conference in Rochester, on November 30 through December 3. This is a prestigious statewide honor for students who earn a perfect score on their NYSSMA solos. NYSSMA – the New York State School Music Association – welcomes approximately 7,000 students annually to audition for five All-State performing ensembles. Just under 600 are selected to participate.

“Making it into an All-State ensemble is a huge honor,” said WVHS music teacher Noreen Hanson. “In order to make it, these students have had to put in so much time, so many hours of practice and dedication. I am so proud of all of them!”

Check out a short clip of Ben on the kit below this story!

WVHS band director Megan Shafer also recognized the students’ tireless creative efforts. “They all take weekly private lessons, they all work hard at their musicianship,” she said. “And, they’re just wonderful kids, too, so nice and so friendly.”

“Selection is such an honor,” added WVHS orchestra teacher Elissa Maynard. “It gives these young people validation of their talents, knowing that they truly are among the best in the state.”

Meet the performers…


Zoe Link

Zoe was, unfortunately, unable to join us for the interview. However, Ms. Maynard was more than happy to share her pride in Zoe for both her creative drive and having achieved a perfect score on her NYSSMA viola solo. The performance earned Zoe an alternate spot in an incredibly competitive section.

“The selection Zoe chose to play was a difficult piece, and she nailed it,” said Ms. Maynard. “I am very proud of our Warwick students. They exemplify the definition of outstanding achievement in music, and they’ve shown us that they have what it takes to make All-State — no easy task!”

Ms. Maynard shared that she also has received many kind messages congratulating the students and paying kudos to the music program.


Kayla Ludovicy
Oboe, English Horn
All-State Symphonic Band

Kayla started playing oboe in fourth grade, and participated in the OCMEA All-County Festival and similar events throughout middle school. She took up English horn in her freshman year. Wanting to take part in as many musical situations as possible, she has also learned trumpet, which she plays in both the Warwick jazz and marching bands.

“So, she’s actually one of our lead trumpet players in the jazz band here,” added a proud Ms. Shafer.

Kayla’s prepared NYSSMA solo was Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra.

“I’m very honored to be a part of the band, especially to play both of my instruments,” said Kayla. “It’s not something that I was expecting. To be a ‘doubler’ is a really big honor for me!”


Ben Poka
Drum Set
All-State Jazz Band

Ben chose classical percussion in fourth grade and added drum kit in sixth. He has participated in the OCMEA All-County Music Festival throughout his middle and high school years, including the jazz band. His path to jazz began with lessons in rock drumming, but he says he has spent much more time studying and playing jazz at this point. He’s also no stranger to an audition! Ben performs outside of school with the Kingston-based Hudson Valley Youth Jazz  Orchestra.

“You audition for that band every year,” said Ben. “So, when I got to be the drum set player for that, I decided to try out for All-State.”

He performed a solo drum set piece for NYSSMA.

Ben has stepped it up already for senior year,” said Ms. Shafer. “He’s not only the drummer in our jazz band, he’s enrolled in concert band, where I actually have him acting as a ‘teaching assistant,’ providing some peer leadership in our percussion section.”


Conner Price
All-State Vocal Jazz

Conner started with the Warwick music department in when he moved to Warwick in the fourth grade, learning viola with Ms. Moser. He still plays viola today, and has become a staple of our vocal ensembles since he joined mixed choir in his freshman year. Now in his junior year, this will be his second with the high school’s Meistersingers, whose yearly performances have taken them to the stage at Radio City Music Hall. For his NYSSMA solo, Conner sang the Irving Berlin classic Cheek to Cheek.

“[Being selected] is nerve wracking and it’s also an honor,” said Conner. “It’s cool knowing that NYSSMA chose me out of… how many other people!? We have a lot of working our butts off ahead of us.”

Good luck preparing for the Rochester performances, everyone! Here in Warwick, we look forward to enjoying another school year full of excellent musical performances from our music program.


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