Moffat County seniors recount All-State choir experience
In January, hundreds of students from across Colorado gathered together at an Embassy Suites Hotel in the state capital. Like ornaments dotting the layers of a Christmas tree, All-State choir members joined together at the hotel’s indoor balconies to sing together. As they sang together, their voices echoed across the room, filling it with sound.
Two of those singers attend Moffat County High School.
Jessica Womble, a senior, said that the audition process for All-State choir was a nerve-wracking experience, but the memories she has made throughout the process has made it all worth it.
“We ended up auditioning in separate rooms with separate judges,” Womble said. “For me, it was really nice, because my mom was able to be there with me for my solo, because she was playing the piano. It was really fun.”
Womble and fellow senior Nevaeh Allen practiced for weeks leading up tol the first audition day. For All-State Choir, there are two auditions: one is a regional audition in Grand Junction, and the other is in Denver. For the first audition, students bring in a classical piece that has been practiced and memorized over the weeks before, as well as basic choir skills such as intervals, sight-reading and scales.
“After the audition, and after we got the results back, it was pretty surreal,” Womble said. “It was really awesome to think that we were two out of 500 kids that made it out of the entire state. And that was just so cool.”
Allen said that, in Denver, at the second audition, judges made sure students had materials memorized by giving them a short section of some of the provided music. Students have about three times to prove that they know it, or they get sent home. Allen and Womble passed on the first try.
Immediately after those auditions, students were split into their respective choirs during the weekend. Both Womble and Allen were in the treble choir, which featured all girls. At the event, there was also a mixed choir (boys and girls) and a tenor-bass choir (boys). Allen added that All-State students created a community with each other in a short amount of time, and both MCHS students agreed that they have made long-time friends with the other students they have met through auditioning and performing.
“I think one of my favorite parts about performing has to be just getting into the music, because the more feeling you put into a song, the funner it is, and the more you get to make your audience feel,” Allen said. “A lot of songs have an intended feeling that they want to portray to the audience. I think that that’s one of the most important things for a choir to do, and for a singer to do, is to really identify with the song and figure out what it means to them to be able to share that through how they’re singing.”
Over the course of the weekend, Womble said she and her fellow choir members grew close and felt like a support system for each other — even through the hours-long practices.
“Being able to have that amount of energy around us really helped us push through the practice and the performance,” Womble said. “Just knowing that my family was out there — and I know that they’re out there, and I know that they’re so proud of me — was amazing. It was just so fun. I remember when — because we were the last choir to perform for that night — and the curtains closed, we all were cheering because it was over. And we did so good, and we were all so proud of ourselves.”
Both students commended their director for the weekend, Dr. Rosephane Powell, for her guidance during their rehearsals. In the beginning, Allen said, because all directors are different and conduct in their own way, learning how she approached music was a challenge. By the end, she said, all of the treble choir members knew exactly what was expected from them.
“One of our first songs was ‘Dies Irae,’ and that means ‘day of wrath,’” Allen said. “It’s a very tense song. One of the main things she told us to do was, like, ‘Blow these men away to know that women are powerful, too.’ A lot of her teaching was to show that we are just as important as them. When she started the entire piano intro, she had to turn the page when we started singing. When she did that, during the concert, she ripped her music. It fell and we had to keep going… She was just amazing.”
Womble and Allen said they encourage their choir peers to try out for All-State next year.
“If I didn’t get to go, that would have been the worst regret of my life, because I wouldn’t trade the All-State experience for anything,” Allen said. “It’s something that compares to nothing else.”
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