Students excel in KC Metro choirs

Eleven STA students earned roles in the KC Metro Women’s Choir and All-District Choir.

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by Madi Winfield, Maggie Knox, and Molly Bird

story by Madi Winfield

 

“How long have you been singing?”

“Since I can remember.”

“What about public singing?”

“Since third grade.”

Nine years later, senior Hillary Talken, along with 15 other St. Teresa’s students, auditioned for KC Metro choirs Oct. 4. Six students earned a role in the KC Metro Women’s Choir, while five, including Talken, are a part of All-District Choir.

photos by Maggie Knox

Those five girls auditioned for Missouri All-State Choir, the most selective of the KC Metro choirs, Oct. 25. Only eight students – six members and two alternates – are chosen from each district for each vocal part: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Each district performs in their own separate festival, then comes together as a full state choir at the MMEA Conference. This is held annually at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in the Lake of the Ozarks Jan. 28 – 31.

This year, Talken was chosen as one of six altos in the choir, while seniors Micah Welch and Maggie Hutchison were named All-State Choir alternates.

“All-District Choir is SATB – soprano, alto, tenor, bass – and obviously we don’t have tenors and basses here, except for Varsity Singers,” Talken said. “Actually, Varsity Singers has six people in [All-District Choir,] which is something that can’t be said throughout the whole state.”

Eight students also earned roles in the KC Metro 9-10 Honor Choir. To qualify for this choir, students auditioned for STA choir director Greg Monsma, who can only send eight freshmen and sophomores to participate.

“Each school in the district submits 16 students,” Monsma explains. “They get scored on sight reading and a solo. The highest 120 scores make it into All-District Choir. After those slots are filled up, the next 100 top-ranked scores are included into the Women’s Choir.”

According to the Kansas City District Choirs website, the All-District Choir audition process consists of a solo audition, key signature identification and sightreading tests. Even so, it’s pretty “laid-back,” according to senior Monica Stanley, a member of All-District Choir.

“I think that’s why a lot of the girls from STA prosper so well in District Choir,” Stanley said. “They don’t really see [auditions] as a life-or-death situation; they’re just going to do what they love, and I think that really works out well for a lot of people.”

Junior Connor Hodes, a member of the Women’s Choir, agrees that the choirs require dedication.

“It’s a really unique experience,” Hodes said. “You meet so many different people that have the same passion as you, that are there because they sing and because they love to sing.”

All KC Metro Choirs – All-District, Women’s, and 9-10 Honor Choir – as well as All-State Choir spend a full day together learning their performance pieces and preparing for their concert that night. All-District and Women’s Choirs have one supplementary rehearsal before Jan. 17, the day of the festival, while All-State Choir has four.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Stanley said. “We do get a lot of free time, but during that free time we’re still looking over our words and practicing even when we don’t have to.”

“How did you find out you were chosen for All-State?”

“I was cleaning my room with my little six-year-old sister and refreshing the page over and over again. It came up and I scrolled and saw my name and I screamed really loudly. That really freaked Kaitlyn out because she’s six years old and didn’t know what was happening.”

According to Talken, she is looking forward to Tan-Tar-A the most. Both the All-State Choir and the STA Singers Choir will attend the MMEA Conference this year.

“I’ll get to participate in all kinds of things down there [at the conference],” Talken said. “It’s an experience that I’ve never had before.”

Freshman Kate Willnauer, a member of 9-10 Honor Choir, is excited to experience a different conductor.

“I mean, I love Mr. Monsma, but I think being taught by someone else would be kind of interesting,” Willnauer said. “Just to see how other people teach differently.”

A particularly special piece of the experience, according to Stanley, is the clothing.

“Everybody wears their own school choir robes or, for instance, our dresses,” Stanley said. “It’s a really powerful experience when you’re looking at it from the audience and seeing all the various schools represented in the choir.”

“What do you like most about choirs?”

“They’re nice because I get to sing in front of people and perform really fun music, but it’s not like all the pressure’s on me. Instead of performing solo where you have a lot of pressure on you, it’s a lot more calming.”