A firsthand account of the 2017 District Chorus Festival

Kayla Dell, Staff Writer

About three months ago, a small group of prepared chorus students boarded a bus to audition for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s District Chorus.

Each hopeful had prepared M. Thomas Cousins’ Glorious Everlasting to sing in a blind audition for three judges who would decide their participation in the festival.

When the results were posted the following evening, 16 BPHS students were accepted into this year’s District 1 Chorus Festival, and I was lucky to be one of them.

In the weeks to follow, we all individually prepared six new pieces of music to perform at Districts and also to use in our audition for the following PMEA Festival, Region Chorus.

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, after completing a full day of school, all of us District Chorus kids hopped on a school bus and waited for students from Mt. Lebanon and Upper Saint Clair high schools to arrive.

Each day we “carpooled” with the two other schools, considering the distance between here and Montour High School, which is where the District 1 Festival was being held.

That evening was our audition for Region Chorus. We were called in order of voice part, beginning with soprano 1 and ending with bass 2. Everyone agreed that auditions were nerve-wracking, as most auditions are, but we all got through them.

One nice thing about PMEA auditions is that they are blind auditions: when entering the room to sing, the three adjudicators have their backs to us so that they can only hear and not see us, ensuring that we will only be judged by our talent.

After auditions, we all ate dinner and finished the night by meeting our guest conductor, Stan McGill. Mr. McGill traveled from Texas to conduct our festival and he was very excited to be working with us.

Before we left, Mr. McGill asked us to sing a few pieces of our repertoire so he knew where to start tomorrow. After singing about four songs, we were dismissed, got back on the bus, and traveled back to Bethel.

The next day at 7:15 in the morning, we all met at Upper Saint Clair High School to catch the bus and drive to Montour high just like we had the day before.

Once we arrived and warmed up our voices, we rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed a little more, and then rehearsed again, all the while anxiously awaiting our audition results. That afternoon, our audition results were announced: almost all of the Bethel students made it into Region Chorus!

We were all very excited, and our director, Mr. Kuczawa, was very proud of everyone. We then had lunch and went back to rehearsing. We worked really hard all day so that we would be ready for our performance the following day.

Mr. McGill was very militant and pushed us to make every piece of music as close to perfect as possible. We then drove home and met our parents at Upper Saint Clair to be picked up.

Friday, our last day of District Chorus, was our performance night! We met at Mt. Lebanon High School to catch the bus in the morning and arrived at Montour shortly after. We rehearsed all morning, had lunch, rehearsed some more, and then, Mr. McGill decided we were ready.

That was a very exciting and rewarding moment for everyone.

We were dismissed to go change into our concert attire and get ready for our dinner banquet. The banquet was very fun. We all got to enjoy our time together and grow closer as a group of friends.

When the banquet was over, people had already began arriving for the concert. Friends and family of all of the students came to support their singers and hear some beautiful music.

This year’s District Chorus included about 160 students from over 50 high schools (grades 10-12). Each person there had put in plenty of hard work and learned a lot of new, valuable musical lessons from Mr. McGill.

The rest of the BPHS kids and I all agree that District Chorus this year was both a great opportunity and experience.

We are now preparing for and looking forward to Region Chorus this February!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email