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Quality, passion set these all-state music teens apart

MANATEE — Music experts say she plays the flute and piccolo with a tone clear as an Idaho fly-fishing stream.

But she can also crash like a tidal wave into her Braden River Rage opponents on the soccer field.

Is there anything 17-year-old Southeast High School senior Kacie Boniberger can’t do?

Well, she is having a struggle deciding between Florida State University and Central Florida, both of which have offered scholarships.

Boniberger’s greatest feat, however, may be something that took her five years to achieve.

When she was recently selected as a member of the Florida Music Educators Association’s All-State Symphony Orchestra it marked the fifth year in a row she received the honor, dating back to when she attended Haile Middle School.

“She may be unprecedented,” Southeast High band director Ron Lambert said. “She is simply the best flute player I have ever had.”

Boniberger, who lives in Country Creek in East Manatee, is attending Southeast via school choice, a decision she made to attend the school’s academic-rich International Baccalaureate program.

“I decided it would be more challenging and it is,” said Boniberger, who has played soccer for nine years with the Rage.

Boniberger is also a member of the Sarasota Orchestra’s Youth Philharmonic and performed with that group at Carnegie Hall in New York City last June.

“Kacie’s always done a great job balancing academics, sports and music,” said Kacie’s dad, Michael Boniberger. “She’s earned recognition for her hard work and accomplishments in each. Her mom and I are very proud of her.”

So what is it that makes Boniberger and her peers all-state musicians?

“Well, I know it’s a lot of tone,” Boniberger said.

“That’s a key, but overall it’s being able to develop a level of musicality. That’s what happens as you become a more mature musician. You start playing with emotion and you are better able to express the intent of the composer.”

Besides Boniberger, the Seminoles had eight all-staters in chorus: Kiah Brown, Mathew Davis, Daniel Evans, Shelby Price, Hannah Morse, Giselle Herrera, Ashley McCarthy and Patrick Broder.

Braden River High had one all-stater — Allison Martin, 17, a member of the all-state chorus.

Lakewood Ranch was represented by two-time band all-stater Eric Lang, 17, on trumpet, and Nicholas L’Heureux, 17, on alto sax.

The Mustangs also had two orchestra all-staters — Po-Yi Ho on violin and Tristan L’Heureux on viola.

Lang and L’Heureux have won the admiration of Lakewood Ranch band director Bob Schaer.

“Eric’s tone quality is mature,” Schaer said. “Nick also has great tone and great technique.”

These two Mustangs are also outstanding in the classroom with Lang at a 4.5 grade point average and L’Heureux at 4.0

Lang would probably swap his all-state honor for a day with one of the world’s greatest trumpet players, Wayne Bergeron, his hero.

“His range is amazing,” Lang said.

L’Heureux’s hero is saxophonist Paul Desmond.

Martin of Braden River was a first soprano in the women’s chorus.

She said she will never forget making all-state and performing at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

“It was one of the most amazing things,” said the junior.

“It’s quality and the passion all around you. Everyone there wants to be there and puts so much work and heart into it,” Martin said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.