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Flutist Kate Sullivan '23 earns top spot in state

Flutist Kate Sullivan '23 earns top spot in state

Kate Sullivan '23 plays the flute during the Gibbons Gala.

Photo by Azul Photography

When flutist Kate Sullivan '23 takes the stage to perform, she feels at home playing the instrument she first picked up as a sixth-grader. 

"The band program has shaped me and boosted my confidence," she said. "It's given me opportunities to lead and serve."

During her time at Cardinal Gibbons, Kate has honed her craft and risen to become the top player in North Carolina, an honor she recently earned as the first chair in the All-State Band. 

"I am extremely honored and grateful for this opportunity and accomplishment," she said. "I've always imagined the first chair player in All-State to be some prodigy, so it's surreal to think that I am that flute player now that I have looked up to and strived to be for so many years.

"I still can't believe it - it feels good when hard work pays off."

As drum major, Kate has had the chance to mentor her peers, helping them grow their musical talents.

"I get to help people who share the same interests," she said. "It's rewarding because these are the people and the music that made me who I am."

Not only did Kate take the top spot in the All-State band, she did so by 16 points by playing one of her favorite pieces of all time - "Cecile Chaminade - Concertino." 

It has the perfect combination of melodies and difficulty," she said. "The piece has a lot of character and is really pretty." 

Kate qualified for the All-State band during her sophomore year and routinely places in the All-District band. She was also a Triangle Youth Philharmonic member and President of the Gibbons Tri-M Music Honor Society. 

Band Director Mark Cashin said Kate has been a blessing to the program, leading with quiet confidence. 

"She embodies what I hope for in every student at Gibbons: enthusiasm for learning, a tenacious work ethic, and a passion for music that has allowed her to foster lifelong friendships," he said. "
It has been a privilege to work with her and an honor to be her director these past four years."

The summer before her junior year, Kate attended Governor's School, a summer residential program for gifted and talented high school students, where she worked with five different college professors. 

Being part of the All-State Band means she'll also get to work with one of the top conductors in the state during the clinic leading up to the performance.

It's always great to work with new conductors because they all have different tips and perspectives," Kate said. "It's exciting to play with the best people in the state - when you play with people who are better than you, you get better."