For a few singers at Helias Catholic High School, the coming weeks are going to be a time to prepare to audition for the most competitive choir in the state, All State Concert Choir. Each year, those Juniors and Seniors that make it into District Concert Choir have a rare opportunity to compete for a spot in Missouri All State Choir, which for some would be the crowning achievement of their singing career. Getting into districts is a feat in itself, those who want to make it even further, must prepare rigorously if they plan to make it into All State Choir.
To get into the exclusive choir, singers must prepare a song which rotates every other year. The song this year is “Exultate Justi,” a Latin song known for being tricky for all four voice parts. The bass part is widely accepted as being the least technically difficult followed by the soprano, then alto, and finally the most difficult voice part in the song, the tenors, according to the Mrs. Jana Fox, director of the Helias Concert Choir. The tenors face a very unique challenge in “Exultate Justi.” Tenors face a difficult struggle between singing high while still being able to sing strong. The ideal tenor has a wide range of deep more masculine tones accompanied by an ability to
sing high pure notes while keeping correct pitch. “Exultate Justi” requires all the talents and expectations of a tenor to be refined and mastered. It has a wide range of notes that stretches all throughout a tenor’s range. Its biggest obstacle is the high notes that don’t cease.
Most of the singers attempting to make it into All State Choir, not only practice with the Helias Concert Choir but also take private lessons where they truly hone their art. Experience imparted from past members of the choir as well as information from former directors, hint at one trick to getting into the respected choir, which is ‘sound like the original recording’. At the singer’s private lessons, which they typically take from either Ken Kehner or Sue Logsten, they do just that. They train their voices to have perfect tone and sound exactly like the perfect recording the singers are based off of. They also learn correct pronunciation which can be difficult with a Latin song.
The auditions for the All State choir will take place at the first All District Choir rehearsal, which is in about six weeks. Six weeks is a good amount of time for a talented artist to become a master of a song, however this only proves the difficulty of the selection process for the choir. Three factors are taken into account when deciding who gets to be in the state choir. They are a singer’s sight reading score from their district audition, their score from their district song audition, and their score from the state audition song. In addition, the top sight reader in each district automatically makes all state choir. Those hoping to make the cut have a long difficult road ahead of them.
Helias has had a good history of All State singers. Last year Helias had two students make all state, and the year before, the choir had three Helias students.
“I think this year we could be very successful in our state prospects,” said Mrs. Fox, adding, “there’s a lot of talent this year.”
Helias is well represented in district choir this year and they hope to continue that path in state choir this year.
Those auditioning for state have a few weeks to prepare for their opportunity. A long road lies ahead, but those who are committed have said that they are dedicated to success and hope to make Helias proud.