Photo courtesy of Theresa Severin.
On November 7, the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA) District XII Choir Auditions was open to all Arlington high school students at Bishop O’Connell High School. The auditionees will be informed of their rejection or acceptance some time within the following week.
To prepare for the audition, students have been partaking in 15 minute sessions with choir teacher and conductor Theresa Severin to rehearse music and sight singing. The auditions were slightly different than they have been in years past. Last year, all students were assigned a choral piece in which they only sang a section of the music that was in their voice part: soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. This year, all students were assigned a solo artistic piece that is the same for everyone but is distinguished by different vocal parts. The audition song was “Bendemeer’s Stream” by Thomas Moore, arranged by Alfred Scott Gatty. “I think the slightly different process this year seems more intimidating than it actually is,” senior Miguel Rivera said. “If you’re committed to learning the music and working hard to sound your best, it shouldn’t matter what they throw your way.”
Once students get confirmation of their acceptance, a selection of five to seven choral pieces are sent in the mail to all the schools with students participating. Students then practice the music in preparation for the Choir’s rehearsals and final performance. This year, District Choir will be hosted at the school for the first time in four years. “I am excited District Choir is here this year so I don’t have to go far away,” senior Apollo Yong said. “There is a benefit in having a familiarity with the location.”
District Choir rehearsals are known to be extensive and exhausting. Each song is gone over thoroughly, and there is limited time for breaks and off task banter. The first rehearsal with all the students together will be on February 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The next is the following day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the final rehearsal and performance is on February 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “I think the rehearsals are totally necessary,” junior Charlotte Maskelony said. “If you skip the rehearsals, you will bring the entire choir down.”
Each year, a guest conductor is selected to work with students for a total of approximately 18 hours. Though the guest conductors this year have yet to be determined, many students have an idea of what to expect. In years past, the conductors share a commonality of being successful professionals and esteemed in their field and line of work. For example, last year, the Soprano Alto Tenor Bass (SATB) Choir Conductor was Scott Tucker, Washington D.C.’s Choral Arts Artistic Director. “Scott Tucker was an incredible conductor that truly inspired us to work our hardest and sing with passion,” senior Abby England said. “I can not wait to see what incredible talent the new conductor will bring.”