Boyertown Students Audition, Earn Seats in County and District Choirs
by Lesley Misko
It’s that time of year when high school students nervously enter a room, walk to the front, and begin singing or playing an instrument for a panel of music judges they do not know, in the hope of earning one of a limited number of slots for County and District music groups that will showcase the best and most motivated musicians. Thus far, auditions have been held for County and District choirs. Band and orchestra auditions will follow later.
First Level: County Auditions
Boyertown Area Senior High (BASH) students traveled to Governor Mifflin High School to audition for Berks County Senior County Chorus on Oct. 17, 2023. “Of the 25 students who auditioned, 22 made it and 2 were selected as alternates,” BASH choir director Mr. Jeffrey K. Brunner shares with pride.
This year’s audition piece, a selection from Mendelsohn’s He Watching Over Israel, was provided to choir directors and students in advance to enable them to prepare for the audition in front of two judges. Brunner describes it as “a challenging piece of music because the parts are all different for the different vocal ranges.”
Music will fill the air Jan. 20, 2024, at Conrad Weiser High School, when the actual County Chorus concert will be presented. Prior to the concert, the guest conductor for the event will select the rest of the music, so that concert participants can once again begin practicing.
Coordinated by the “Music Educators of Berks County,” there are 18 public schools participating. The group strives “to further the development of music education in the public schools of Berks County through mutual helpfulness to teachers and students and utilizing all possible resources.”
Boyertown students selected to participate include: Sopranos Tia Ryan, Lacie Hickman, Brynn Ressler, Kailey Reinboth, Abigail Breidenbach, Emily Wambold, Ashtyn Ehst, Lyndsey Peterman. Also, Altos Rosalie Camper, Ava Puleo, Emily Gates, Keira Comfort, Emma Wyatt, Reagan Vining, and Tenors Joseph Casey, Adam Pensyl. Also, Basses Mark Smith, Kolby Grim, Wyatt Hodgdon, Dominic Maldonado, and Christian Calautti.
Students Move to Next Level: District Auditions
Following County auditions, on Oct. 23, BASH choir students traveled to Parkland High School in the Lehigh Valley to audition for Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s (PMEA) District 10 Chorus.
The first level of statewide competition, over 750 students from 51 schools competed to earn a place in the 200- seat choir. For their audition, students performed a more challenging section of the same Mendelsohn piece, this time for three unknown judges. The student’s ability to sight read music was also part of this audition that focuses on “qualities like accuracy of pitch and rhythm and intonation,” notes Brunner.
The District concert will be presented Jan. 26, 2024, at Jim Thorpe High School and will be under the direction of guest conductor Dr. Johnnie Felder, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at South Carolina State University. During the preparation time for the concert, participating students will audition for Regional Chorus. Those who make the cut, move one step closer to the coveted State Chorus.
BASH students selected for District Chorus include: Soprano Emily Wambold, Altos Rosalie Camper, Ava Puleo, Emma Wyatt, and Emily Gates. Also, Tenor Joey Casey, and Basses Mark Smith, Daniel Freed, and Dominic Maldonado.
PMEA is a statewide nonprofit group with more than 3,700 members, that “evolved from a small group of band directors dating from 1933. The organization promotes and supports quality music education, learning and performance, as well as promoting and supporting music education in schools and communities. PMEA is affiliated with The National Association for Music Education.”
Director Brunner is “proud that Boyertown has a high number of students representing the school again.” He explains, “The number of students auditioning was up this year, making it more competitive. This is the year of ‘COVID bounceback.' I am proud of all who tried out.”
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