Commerce High School sophomore Michael McWhorter was named to the ATSSB All-State Jazz Ensemble and will perform with the group on Feb. 15 in San Antonio.

A sophomore student at Commerce High School received a prestigious honor as he was named to the Association of Texas Small School Bands’ All-State Jazz Ensemble.

Michael McWhorter, who plays the trumpet, received the news last week at the Region Jazz Clinic and Concert held at Ford High School in Quinlan. He says music is important in his family.

“Both my dad (Rob) and my uncle (Will) played trumpet,” McWhorter said. “So when I got to choose my instrument in sixth grade, that’s the one I wanted.”

From starting out in the sixth grade to making the All-State Jazz Ensemble just four years later? Not a bad start.

McWhorter said that for the audition process, he had to learn three pieces, and the top performers at the All-Region audition earlier this fall would be selected to try out for state, where they would then do an improvisational piece. Then the announcement of who makes it to state would be made at the Region clinic. McWhorter said he was shocked to find out he was chosen.

“I was really surprised I made it,” McWhorter said. “I guess I was just in disbelief, I didn’t expect it at all.”

Making it to the ensemble is no small task. Only 25 students from all 1A through 4A high schools in the state are selected, making this one of the hardest groups to make in Texas.

Kara Wallace, McWhorter’s band director at CHS, says that she could see this coming.

“When I first heard him play last year, even as a freshman, I could tell he was going to make this group someday,” Wallace said. “He prepares at a very high level.”

Wallace said that this is also beneficial for McWhorter’s future, as he will start catching the eye of university music programs.

“He can expect to see scholarship offers start to come in after this,” Wallace said.

The young trumpeter says it’s hard for him to choose a favorite between jazz band and marching band, but says that he prefers jazz.

“It gives you a lot more freedom to express yourself and experiment with the music,” McWhorter said.

He added that gets “goosebumps” when thinking about playing at All-State next February. The TMEA All-State Convention runs from Feb. 12-15 in San Antonio.

McWhorter will play with the ATSSB All State Jazz Ensemble at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in the Hemisfair Ballroom.

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