This year, eight Red Lion students made District Choir.
Amica Bonitz, Michaela Carey, Joseph Lanehart, Qi Li, Teague Rudacille, Isaac Sattazahn, Gavin Scallorn, and Victoria Stigile were those eight students who auditioned for and made PMEA District Choir.
“The audition is competitive and nerve-wracking but completely gratifying when you hear the news that you have made it,” says Carey, a senior. “Knowing that I’m sharing the stage with others who share the same love for music as me is just as rewarding as even making it in the first place.”
To make District Choir, the musicians prepare two pieces, one fast-paced and one acapella. This year the fast paced song piece was “Cum Sancto Spiritu” and the acapella piece was “Heilig.”
The musician goes into the audition room where three judges, who are music teachers throughout the district, wait with their backs towards the performer. It is then that the student begins to sing their piece at the start, while stopping at the places that the judges decide on. The judges then critique them on a scale.
A choir consists of an alto I, alto 2, soprano I, soprano II, tenor I, tenor II, bass I, and bass II section. The PMEA only accepts the top 25 students for each section, so there are 200 students who make it throughout the entire district.
Weeks before the audition, the students are given the songs that they will perform in order to prepare.
Once at the audition, the students may not sing or talk as they enter the room, as the judges may be teachers that the students have had in the past, which could bias their grading.
After it has been determined which students make it into District Choir, those performers can continue on to try out for Regional Choir.
There are many reasons as to why students choose to audition for District Choir. For senior Isaac Sattazahn, being a part of District Choir means being a part of something that is much bigger than himself.
“It’s like an escape for me to just focus on music for the time that we’re there and just have a good time doing what I love with other fantastic musicians that share the same passion,” says Sattazahn. “Compared to previous years, the music is very complex. Very strange rhythms, meters, and in fact, notes! The music is going to be a real challenge to properly learn and perfect.”
District Choir accepts the top 25 students in each section but as one goes onto Regionals, that number decreases to the top 13 performers in each section. If the musician decides to continue on the musical journey, the States choir will accept 6 students per section, and then Nationals, the highest ranking, accepts only four students in each section.
Many senior musicians describe their experience as surreal, especially the seniors who know it is their last time.
“It’s very emotional during the last piece for everyone, but especially for the seniors. Knowing that this is the last song we will all sing together makes it so emotional but special at the same time” Stigile says as she smiles with the recollection of last year’s concert,” says senior Tori Stigile.
The PMEA choir challenges the students in their musicianship.
“But after the auditions are over and those who made it get the news and come to the rehearsals, it truly shows why we were chosen and why we have all come together to show the community our love for music and our talent.” says Stigile.
Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, or more commonly known as PMEA, is a non-profit organization for the PA state-level affiliation of the National Association for Music Education.
The District Choir concert will be held on Jan. 27, at Susquehannock High School at 5 pm with a small admission fee.