Commentary: Roemhildt wins state command performance

Madelyn Roemhildt performs solo “No One Else” at the Cabaret Drive-In held at Orca Adventure Lodge earlier this spring. Photo courtesy of Wendy Ranney

It began in seventh grade. That’s when Madelyn Roemhildt first started to sing “No One Else” from “Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” Fast forward to her junior year of high school and she chooses to perform it for the Regional Solo and Ensemble Competition. She receives her superior rating and moves on to the state competition. That’s when the story gets good.

At the Aurora Regional Competition, the expectation for Cordova students is they will receive a superior rating. The students work with myself and Anita Smyke before and after school to prepare their solos or ensembles. Then, they perform for the judges in competition against all the other musicians in their genre, receive feedback from the judges, and, finally, wait patiently for the results. I receive the results that afternoon and any student who receives a superior rating wins a spot at the State Competition usually held in Anchorage. If a student was the best performer from the adjudicator’s room, they are deemed a “Command Performance Winner.” We had Serena Herschleb win at the regional level with her clarinet solo Etude No.3by Carl Baermann. (Way to go Serena!) 

Now, this year was different, everything was virtual. The regional competition was via Google Meet and all performances were performed in the CHS music room. For the state competition, it would only be submitted recordings. April 26: these musicians performed their solo and ensembles at the Cabaret Drive-Inheld at Orca Adventure Lodge and the state competitors’ performances were recorded. I then submitted them to the state adjudicators and the wait was on. 

To help you understand how absolutely amazing what I’m about to tell you is, I must fill in some gaps for the “non-music program” people. To get a superior at the State Solo and Ensemble is hard; it is not expected. We go to state each year with the dream of getting a superior, but realize it’s about growing from the adjudicator’s feedback, witnessing other great high school musicians, and creating tighter bonds within our own program. The anxiety levels are high. The camaraderie is strong. We try our best and console those that tank, but when we get those superiors… man does it feel good! Just like at the regional level, if you are the best of the best from your genre, you could win a state command performance. The last time Cordova had a winner at the state level was 1991. Shannon Mallory played a piano solo entitled “Peter and the Wolf,” and before that, in 1988, the only other winning performance in Cordova school history was a Dixieland band consisting of Tim Flynn, Shannon Mallory, Karol Moore, David Roemhildt and David Sanders.

Ladies and gentlemen, Madelyn Roemhildt has won a state command performance for her musical theater vocal solo “No One Else” from “Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” She is the first in 30 years to win a state command performance for Cordova. Madelyn is the first ever Cordova musician to win a state command performance for voice. This is school history being made! We in the music program at CHS are beyond proud of Maddy’s results, but we also see this as a healing moment. After such a long year, so many ups and downs, so many what-ifs, so many “is this really going to happen or will it get cancelled” thoughts, we are healing. At the beginning of the year, the music program suffered a great blow to numbers, to leadership, to passion. Fast forward to the end of the year…the buzz is electric. We’re back.

If you’d like to give her performance a listen, go to and search “Madelyn Roemhildt.”