Pham’s musical forte


In the middle of the group of composers during the Composition Contest Awards Ceremony at the Illinois Music Education Conference is Jovian Pham, who was not ready for the photo.


GHS senior, Jovian Pham attended the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) District Festival and the state-wide Illinois Music Education Conference this school year.

“Students have to audition in order to participate in the ILMEA festival,” Pham said. “I did my french horn audition back in October.”
Later in the month after the online auditions, it was announced that Pham was selected for both ensembles, guaranteeing him a seat at the district festival.

Pham was the only Galena High School student to participate in the ILMEA district festival this year.

“It’s a really unique experience,” he said, “It’s not often that you get to be in a large band performing symphonic music, so auditioning is always worth a shot.”

The district festival was held on November 20 at DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Illinois.

“I had to choose between choir and band, because they perform at the same concert,” said Pham. “I ultimately chose the French horn as my primary focus for this year.”

Throughout the day, students rehearsed music in preparation for their concert.

“Many of us were excited to play the songs we had practiced individually with the whole band,” Pham said. “This performance was an opportunity to be with other students who are super committed to band and excel in what they do.”

Pham also attended the Illinois Music Education Conference January 25 through 28 in Peoria.

Last year, Pham attended this conference for the All-State Honors Chorus. This year, he attended for a more unconventional reason: Pham composed music ensembles.

Every year, the top composers in Illinois submit their ensembles. Pham placed third in the “Jazz Instrumental/Vocal Ensemble” category with his jazz instrumental composition “Soot Walk.” In 2020, Pham’s arrangement, “Slide,” also placed in the state competition.

“Composers at IMEC are given the option to attend the traditional composition,” said Pham. “There they are taught a deeper understanding of music theory and composition.”

Composers are also given the opportunity to attend the production composition workshop, where they learn more about music business and production.

These workshops are taught by multiple music professors and experts from around the state.

“Dr. Lynnsey Lambrecht of Bradley University and Mr. Alby Odum of University of St. Francis were among these experts this year,” said Pham. “I enjoyed learning the theories behind music creation.”

Each night, composers also had opportunities to watch the all-state bands, orchestras, and choirs practice and perform.

On the night of Friday, January 28, every music student assembles to watch the ILMEA All-State Jazz Concert, which consists of the top high school jazz musicians.

“It was by far the busiest and most lively part of IMEC,” Pham recalled.
Pham hopes to pursue his musical interests in his future and continue to participate in competitive compositions.

On March 18, Pham, along with other students from Galena High School, will be participating in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference (NUIC) Honors Music Festival.

This will be Pham’s last district festival performance, where he will be singing with the NUIC Honors Chorus.

“I’m sad that I won’t get to have an experience quite like this again,” he said, “Everyone who is participating in music should seize opportunities like this because they’re difficult to come by after high school.”

Pham wishes to continue pursuing his musical interests and talents in chorus, composing, and French horn following his graduation.
“I really hope that more students get involved in these kinds of music festivals. I want everyone to have the chance to have the positive musical experiences I did,” he said.