Choir Buffs perform at All-State Competition

Kiana Hankins 

Sugar Beet Reporter 

Every year, the Kansas Music Educators Association, or KMEA, hosts the All-State  choir, band and orchestra. There are multiple groups for each, such as the 1-4A band, 5-6A band, jazz band, orchestra, treble choir, mixed choir, 3-5th grade choir and 6-9th grade choir. To be eligible, students must audition at the district level. Then, the students with the top scores are eligible to be selected for the All-State groups, with a $50 registration fee for each student. This was paid for by the music program funds. This year, Garden City High School had nine choir students make the cut; senior Sarah Arrieta; juniors Nathan Ayala, Peter Hall and Carson Linenberger; and sophomores Kyler Bennet, Jasmin Flores, Symone Simmons and Maddie Stout. These students performed in a concert in Wichita, Kan. on the morning of Feb. 23. While in Wichita, they went to rehearsals for a total of about 10 hours before their concert. While they were supposed to return to Garden City after their concert, the group was forced to stay an extra day due to travel conditions. The group was able to go out to different restaurants such as Chick-Fil-A and Olive Garden, go to the Town East Mall and to a movie theater with their extra time.

“The experience was so great, I learned a lot of cool tricks and met a lot of sweet people,” Maddie Stout, public service sophomore, said.

The group of students was supervised by Misty Baldwin and Olivia Henning, choir directors.

“It’s just amazing to hear that many talented students performing,” Baldwin said.

Each choir consisted of 256 students, with about 1,024 students total. While there, students learn different rehearsal techniques to help them improve.

“I learned a lot from it, like singing technique wise,” Nathan Ayala, arts and communications junior, said.

Songs performed at the All-State concert include Arise My Soul, Cantate Domino, Carrickfergus, El Vito, Fear Not, Gloria, Jubilate Deo, Let All the World, Ngokujabula, The Beatitudes and The Runner. The Mixed Choir was conducted by Kevin Fenton, the director of the Florida State University (FSU) University Singers and the Chamber Choir. Fenton has taught at FSU since 2002 and directed choirs in 35 states, 26 of which being All-State choirs. The Treble Choir was conducted by Pearl Shangkuan, a talented and internationally sought after conductor. She is a professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. and has had the privilege to travel to Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Austria, France, Switzerland and throughout Asia with opportunities through music.

“They’re learning from someone who is not their teacher, which is always a good thing because kids listen better when it’s someone different and new,” Baldwin said.

Kiana Hankins is an arts and communications sophomore. You can reach her at hankinsk@student.gckschools.com. 

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