Bolts 12 States Band, Choir Members Join Elite

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Students across the states in the Thunder Basin High School Band and Choir enjoyed one of the perks of being among the best at what they do this week. The selected Bolts spent three days in Rock Springs singing and signing the unit at the annual performances of the Wyoming High School Activities Association and the Wyoming Music Educators Association.

A year ago, in the midst of the pandemic, band, choir and orchestra members from across Wyoming came together virtually for their annual rehearsal and performance. With hundreds of students, this created many problems to come together and function as a single unit.

In-person collaboration from the state’s best returned this year and garnered praise from local administrators.

The eight-piece band TBHS Bolt from all states included Jack Crow (tenor saxophone), Ella Halloran (horn), Andon Mefford (trombone), Hope Schroeder (euphonium), Bailey Sloan (flute), David Bishop (percussion), Jack Burchess (Trombone), Shiann Liston (Trombone) and Ian Schofield (Trumpet). Thunder Basin’s all-state choir talents were Josh Simon, Emma Lehman, Riley Meester and Cameron Shearer.

Left to right are Thunder Basin Choir talents Josh Simon, Emma Lehman, Dr. Derrick Fox (All States Choir Director), Riley Meester and Cameron Shearer. (Photo courtesy of TBHS Choir)

“Our kids were amazing, just amazing,” said TBHS group manager Steve Schofield. “I was beyond pleased with how our students represented Thunder Basin High School. They weren’t in the back, but they were sitting on top of their sections. It was amazing.”

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Best of the Best brought together 110 talented band members from across states from 20 different communities. Add to that the orchestra and choir, there were over 300 students from across the states, most of whom hadn’t even met before, gathered to share and celebrate their talents with two days to prepare for a great show.

Bringing together Wyoming’s top high school choir musicians and choir members is an educational journey for everyone. They spent three days listing, learning, rehearsing, and the finale was a huge performance by everyone who rocked the gymnasium at Rock Springs High School.

“The first day there includes an opening concert that all the music teachers put on, which gives the kids a chance to see us in action,” Schofield said of the one-night role reversals. “With the other educators, I played, and my wife did as well in jazz. It’s a pretty cool thing not just for us, but for the kids to see and hear,” Schofield said.

Musicians from every state from more than two dozen schools come together for a performance. (Photo courtesy of Thunder Basin Bolt Band)

After that, everything was business for 48 hours. The best of the best practiced, rehearsed and learned over two days. This all led up to Tuesday night’s big performance where each group put on a show to be remembered.

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“It was so awesome to see the kids be a part of it, playing with the best in Wyoming,” Schofield said. “After going virtual last year, which didn’t go well, it was great to see them all together.”

Bringing together members from all states was the culmination of a lot of work. This is where strangers become friends, and where friends become a band, a choir, an orchestra.

The season began in August, and the members auditioned for all states in early November. It all led to the biggest national gathering of the year for musicians from every state.

Top band members from Thunder Basin will be performing with the all-state band at various events and rodeos this summer, the biggest of which is a trip to perform at Disney World in Florida in August. As for the annual all-state performance, the next time Gillette will host the event will be in 2028.

More than 100 musicians from every state converged on the Rock Springs High School campus, including a dozen from Thunder Basin. (Photo courtesy of Thunder Basin Bolt Band)
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