SHS Concert Choir sings at State
Last updated 5/17/2022 at Noon
Every year entering the spring season, Sisters High School Choir Director Rick Johnson asks his group of students if they would like to compete in state choir competition, or if they’d rather visit an Oregon university and work with faculty and tour the music programs at Oregon colleges.
This year, students were eager to compete.
“We had just come out of the musical and students said they wanted to compete at the district level,” said Johnson.
The Sisters High School concert choir, led by Johnson and accompanied by Julie Cash on piano, qualified for the OSAA State Choir Championship.
The choir has reached several goals this school year, including a full-scale production of “Oklahoma!” as well as qualifying for the state competition. On Friday, May 6, the concert choir journeyed over the mountains to the OSU campus to compete.
The choir used music from the fall term and added three classical songs to their repertoire for the competition season.
“We chose our songs and began working them like crazy to be ready for taking them to competition,” said Johnson.
The choir qualified through two contests in their district, based on size and songs.
Due to the timeline of the state competition, students would have to be prepared to dive straight into music for the pop show, which happens every May at the end of the school year.
Johnson asked the students, once they qualified, if they wanted to go to State and place high there, exclusively working on those classic songs and spending less time on the pop show music.
“Students said winning isn’t everything and the pop show is so important to them, and they wanted to be working on that music while still workshopping some of the state music,” said Johnson.
The pop show for the concert choir is the culmination of the entire year, a high-energy, pop-filled show. Seniors especially wanted to be able to commit time and energy to the pop show.
The concert choir is made up of all high school grade levels. Students just have to sign up for it on their schedule for the term. It is not an audition-based choir, one of few choirs in the state that are not. The jazz choir is an audition-based choir and a much smaller group. There is no state competition for jazz choirs.
“Sisters choirs aren’t audition-based. We have so many other things in the music programs and it’s important for our music education,” said Johnson.
Students continued working on the classical songs for State leading up to the competition.
“The students really wanted to compete and do well and be proud to represent the Sisters schools,” said Johnson.
Once the choir arrived at the state competition, there were a lot of different requirements to meet. Their set of music had to be 20 minutes exactly, from the first foot to the last foot on the stage.
“We had to make sure we met the timing of all the songs that we took for the competition, and it was challenging, but we were able to do it and dive deeply into it, picking apart all the details and getting close to perfect,” said Johnson.
Overall, the competition was a great experience for the students. No matter the outcome, the students were able to push themselves as performers and hear other choirs competing.
“Competition in the arts is so subjective — often opposite opinions from judges. The competitions did force us to really dive deep into our music and sight reading,” said Johnson.
Choir President Alessandra Wentworth said this of the experience: “The trip was very fun. It was an amazing experience for us as a group. This year was Sisters’ first time to go to State, so it was a big deal. The experience helped a lot with our bonding as a group, and overall, we learned a lot together. We’re incredibly lucky to have Mr. Johnson and Julie Cash as our directors, as they push us to do our best and bring so much of themselves to the program. I am very happy we went.”
The Sisters choir didn’t place in the top four at State, but the students were just excited to be at the competition to begin with.
“When the top four choirs were announced, some of the choirs who did not get first place begrudgingly accepted their trophies with a frown. All the Sisters students felt like we were already winners the entire day — we were performing at the state competition. The kids’ joy in being there was awesome,” said Johnson.
The concert choir had never been to State before; this year was the first time for students.
“We put on a great production of ‘Oklahoma!’ and qualify for state. We did both. Going into the state festival, the students were already champions. It wasn’t about winning; it was about doing their best and enjoying the experience. They accomplished their goals and had fun doing it,” said Johnson.
The Sisters High School Concert Choir will be putting on their annual pop show Tuesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. at the Sisters High School Auditorium.