All-State Chorus conducted as virtual experience


April 15, 2021

With Senior Brian Lee being chaired 2nd at Regional Chorus, the usual road trip taken by participants to states has been cancelled. COVID restrictions continue to make events troublesome, and for All-State chorus, that trend follows. Usually, States are held in a prominent area in Pennsylvania; however, this year, PMEA has decided to hold an all-virtual version of their usual event. Instead of meeting in concert halls and convention centers, the participants, leaders, and guests are on Zoom. 

“I think given the circumstances PMEA is handling the situation very well to ensure everyone gets a final concert,” said, Mr. Steadman, department chair of the MVP program at Prep. 

The now online festival is three days long, starting on the 14th and ending on the 17th. Everyone is sent individual Zoom links, and the meetings can be strictly rehearsing with your vocal section or rehearsing with a group. PMEA is attempted to mimic the experience of States as closely as possible.

“If the All-State festival were taking place in person, I would be going to different workshops with different section leaders and composers,” said Brian. “This year it’s the same thing, but just in different breakout rooms.”

Other than just focusing on the music, they also have a meeting with a guest speaker. This year, the meeting is with Jake Runestad, the composer of the piece they are singing. 

However, these meetings don’t come without sacrifice. For Brian, they interfere with school and his volleyball practices and games. “I’m missing all my practices between Wednesday and Saturday and the game we have on Thursday,” Brian said.

Despite all of this, Brian said that this is an opportunity he would not be able to refuse, especially after working so hard for months to place 2nd.

As for music, there is only one piece for participants, “Proud Music of the Storm.” PMEA was aware of the stressful and demanding year students have faced and didn’t want to give students too much music to learn, especially after learning previous songs for previous competitions. Brian said that the song itself isn’t too vocally demanding but has a difficult ending. 

“The hardest part of the song is that the final note has to be held for around 25 counts,” he said. “That’s a long time to hold a high note!” 

All participants are to record themselves singing their individual parts on an app called Noteflight. The app tells them suggestions on what they need to improve on. It also plays the notes for the singers and helps them learn rather than leaving them on their own. They will also use this app to turn in their recordings. 

Brian has made Prep history, becoming only the second student to reach All-State Chorus. With two students going to States in the four years it’s been available, it’s an impressive record for the small chorus group, with the 2020-2021 class being the biggest chorus crew yet. The future is looking bright for the coming years of chorus.

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