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Ethan Cotten, Northwestern Junior, Named to 2021 South Carolina All-State Orchestra

For most of his life Northwestern High School junior, Ethan Cotten, has been restricted by doctors from participating in physical activities due to his congenital heart defects and the five open-heart surgeries he has undergone during the years. One of his only options? Joining the orchestra! “It’s kind of funny,” said Ethan Cotten, “I only took orchestra because it was really my only option but once I started it, I really enjoyed it.”

Not only did Ethan enjoy it, but he exceled at it. His passion and hard work have resulted in being named to the 2021 South Carolina All-State Orchestra. After auditioning and being rated by multiple judges via video due to COVID-19 restrictions, Ethan was selected as a violist to make the South Carolina All-State Orchestra. In order to audition for All-State, an individual must make the Region Orchestra and be invited to audition for the All-State Orchestra. “I was really happy but surprised,” Ethan said of being selected, “I didn’t expect to make it in since there were only 14 violas who would be chosen for my age group out of the whole state.”

Ethan has been playing the viola since the 6th grade and has had the opportunity to work with five different orchestra teachers throughout middle school and high school. “I chose the viola because it is a lower, richer sound than the violin and usually provides the harmony for the score which is more fun,” Ethan said, “I like that it isn't too high or too low.” He credits each teacher for helping him learn and advance in different ways. Currently, he is also taking private lessons via Zoom from a professional violist in Philadelphia. “I generally practice every day after dinner but the amount of time I spend practicing varies based on how many performances I have coming up,” said Ethan.

Besides practicing the viola, Ethan has been learning to play the piano for the past two years and especially enjoyed having it as an extra hobby during quarantine. Ethan also participates in Young Life with Northwestern, serves on a mission team with his church, and likes to play video games. He also enjoys his science classes like chemistry.

After high school, Ethan is interested in majoring in music in college. “I hope to play in college and I look forward to auditioning for scholarships,” Ethan said of his future, “I don’t plan to ever stop playing, even if it’s only for fun.”

Music has played a significant role in Ethan’s life. “I am very thankful for music,” Ethan said, “I have had five open-heart surgeries to help my heart work more efficiently. I was recently determined eligible for a wish by the Make-A-Wish South Carolina foundation and I'm thinking about asking for a new, higher-quality viola.”


Ethan Cotten