Posted Date: 02/22/2019
The three CHS students who will sing with the KMEA statewide honor choir this week are facing the experience with some anticipation, some anxiety and a little uncertainty.
Participating from Chanute High School are Brian Ayala, Jurnee Rutledge, and Susanne Cunningham. Jillian Vogel was also selected, but had to decline because of a conflict.
The students have performed at the district level, but as sophomores, this was the first year they were eligible to audition for the high school all-state honor choir.
Cunningham said the last time she sang at the state level she was in middle school.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” she said. “This is a huge step up in difficulty,” as far as the music they’re learning. “I’m excited for the challenge.”
All the students commented on the quality of the music they’re trying to learn on their own.
“It’s different, very different,” said Rutledge about “the languages and the pronunciation of the words.”
Both Rutledge and Cunningham are sopranos.
“We’ll get together and practice the songs,” she said.
“She was the one who stuck with me during district,” Cunningham said of Rutledge. “I’m glad I have her by me at state.”
Ayala, the only one to make the KMEA mixed honor choir, said the pieces are difficult, so he’s been going to the music room every day during Comet Time to look his music.
Though music is how Ayala prefers to spend his time, he said he wouldn’t have auditioned if vocal music teacher Natalie Hamilton hadn’t changed the requirements students who want to perform with the select choirs at CHS.
“I’m real glad it was a requirement for class because I know it’s going to be fun,” he said. “(District) was way so much fun for me. I was definitely excited when I saw my name” on the list for state.
Hundreds of students audition to sing with the respective district choirs across the state, the CHS teacher said. A panel of judges determines a score for each tenor, bass, alto and soprano. The top scores are selected for the district choirs. After that concert, students with the highest scores are asked to be part of the all-state honor choir.
“Students who participate in the All-State Choir receive direction from the best teachers and choir directors in the country,” Hamilton said. “Bryan, Jurnee and Susanne will also perform with the best 250 high school singers in the state of Kansas. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful choir program at Chanute High School, but nothing can compare to singing with that many accomplished students at once.”
Music has always been a large part of Jillian Vogel’s life. She said that giving up the opportunity to sing with the state honor choir “was the hardest decision in my life.”
Vogel helped organize and is president of the high school’s HOSA club for future health professionals. This week she has to give a speech that will determine if she’ll be a candidate for a state office with HOSA.
“It was so hard to pick between these two things,” Vogel said, but decided she had to go with her future. She hopes that next year she’ll have another opportunity to make the honor choir.
After two days of rehearsals, the All-State Mixed Choir and the All-State Treble Choir will each perform at an 11 a.m. concert Saturday in the Convention Hall at the Century II Convention Center, Wichita. Tickets are $7 for general admission seats.