Daniel McClellan, 17, a Moffat County High School junior, looks at a plaque in the MCHS choir room listing the names of his older brothers, David and Robert, who qualified in both sets of auditions for Colorado All State Choir in 2006. Last month, McClellan earned 91 points out of 100 in the first round of auditions for All State Choir, making him the first MCHS student in two years to qualify for the event.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Daniel McClellan, 17, a Moffat County High School junior, looks at a plaque in the MCHS choir room listing the names of his older brothers, David and Robert, who qualified in both sets of auditions for Colorado All State Choir in 2006. Last month, McClellan earned 91 points out of 100 in the first round of auditions for All State Choir, making him the first MCHS student in two years to qualify for the event.

Toning up, tuning in

MCHS junior 3rd in family to qualify for state choir event

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The names of Daniel McClellan's older brothers hang on a plaque in the Moffat County High School choir room, reminding him that he's repeating history.

At an audition last month at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, McClellan passed the first qualifier for Colorado All State Choir, an event that tests students' ability to perform and read music in front of a judge.

The achievement, which is comparable to qualifying in a state athletic competition, means the 17-year-old MCHS junior must begin practicing again for a second round of auditions. And, if he performs well enough at the final All State qualifier in February, he'll be allowed to perform at the end of the event with other students who also successfully finished their second audition.

A successful performance in the next qualifier also means he will be the third member of his family to represent the high school at the state choir event.

In 2006, Daniel's older brothers, Robert and David McClellan, were two of three MCHS students who qualified for All State. Their accomplishment warranted placement of their names on a plaque displayed in the choir room.

They were the last students to qualify for the event, until this year.

Following in his brothers' footsteps wasn't an easy task for McClellan.

In addition to performing a solo he'd memorized for the audition, he also was required to sight read a piece of music he'd never seen before.

His preparation time: About 30 seconds.

The trick was keeping his cool.

"One of the biggest things about the audition process is making sure you keep your head," he said. "If you freak out, if you expect to do bad, you probably will."

Daniel Mullens, MCHS director of choral activities, agreed.

"A lot of analogies can be drawn between (All State) and any other state athletic competition," he said. "The coaches will always say, 'You have to want this.'"

Still, that's not to say McClellan didn't have some jitters.

"I was nervous - no joke at all," he said.

But, he added, the inspiration provided by his brothers fueled his desire to win. Ultimately, their examples paid off.

McClellan scored 91 points out of 100 at the audition, securing him a seat in the second and final audition that takes place Feb. 1 at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

This time, though, McClellan will sing a selection assigned to him by All State board members, which he must have memorized by the time he attends the audition.

The prospect of another tryout doesn't daunt McClellan.

Quite the opposite.

"I'm actually way excited," he said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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