BV, GF choirs qualify for state competition
By Kelby Newcomb
The Berryville and Green Forest high school choirs received excellent scores at the Choral Performance Assessment in February, qualifying for the state choral assessment in April.
Berryville High School’s show choir, Vocal Image, will be heading to state for the first time in 10 years.
“I was very proud of them,” choir director Ben Winn said. “This has been the first time in 10 years that an ensemble from Berryville has qualified for state.”
Sophomore Kevin Arana said the choral performance assessment was very stressful.
“It’s intense,” said junior Mason Hurt, “but it’s also such a great opportunity to see other performers and see how they work through the stress.”
Arana said Vocal Image scored one 2R, which is a “high excellent” rating, and two 1s, which is a “superior” rating.
“[Winn] said ‘Well, since the show choir is the most excited about hearing how they did, they’re going to get their scores last,’ ” he said, laughing. “When we heard we got 2R, we were happy because that’s still state qualification. Then we heard the other two scores were both 1s. We were all so hyped.”
“The energy in the bus just shot up,” said senior Rebecca Romine.
“I wasn’t prepared for how loud the bus got,” freshman Nathan Edwards said, laughing.
“This is the first time we’ve actually gotten to go to state,” Hurt said. “I started bawling.”
“All of our emotions were so high because of all the work we put into it,” Arana said.
Hurt said the choir has been working on one of their pieces since October. Edwards said they just started working on the second piece a few weeks ago.
“We originally had three pieces to do, but [Winn] took one out to make it easier,” Hurt said.
She said Vocal Image will now be adding that third piece, “Come Travel with Me,” for the state competition. Arana said they will also be reviewing the notes from the judges.
“We’re going to make sure we hit the standards and excel,” he said. “We want to show that we can do this. A lot of people think because we’re a small town that we’re not going to be as good. We just want to be able to show them it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. The dedication you put into it matters.”
The students attributed the choir’s success to their director.
“He actually focuses on individual performances,” Arana said. “If he finds one person who feels not as confident as the others, he’ll try to push them to show them that they’re just as good as anybody else. He brings out the best in us.”
“He’ll say ‘I hope we’re doing as well as last year,’ ” Romine said. “I laugh and tell him we’re flourishing! I think choir going to state for the first time in several years is a good sign for our music program.”
“We’re excited to be able to go to state and do it with our choir family,” said Arana.
The Green Forest High School Chamber Choir will be going to the state competition for the second year in a row.
Choir director Amelia Duarte-Black said she is proud of how well her students have done.
“This is my first teaching job, so last year was my first time to ever have a group go to state,” she said. “We’re setting up a reputation. I’m really proud of them.”
Senior Kevin Solorzano said the choir received all 1s, a “superior” rating, from the judges.
“We started screaming when we heard the scores,” said sophomore Mya Galvan.
“It was really loud on the bus,” said senior Dustin Pimentel.
“We held up the plaque and cheered,” Solorzano said.
Senior Trinity McMahan said the choir has been working on the music since they got back to school after Christmas Break.
“[Duarte-Black] ordered the music, and we started working on it,” Pimentel said. “We didn’t get hard into it because we were also working on All-State. Once that was done, we started getting really in depth.”
Solorzano said Duarte-Black had the students do all sorts of unusual things to prepare for the Choral Performance Assessment.
“The week before, we sang underneath the bleachers for better acoustics,” he said, laughing, “and we sang in the concession stand.”
“We marched around in a circle,” Galvan said. “We even like held hands and just tried to learn stuff.”
“She did a lot of exercises to get us to listen to each other and perfect our tone,” McMahan said.
Solorzano said they took two pieces to the assessment: the Hungarian song “Tambur” and “Requiem.”
“The songs were really contrasting,” he said. “ ‘Tambur’ is all about singing and dancing. ‘Requiem’ was about a remembrance for people who have been in natural disasters and lost their homes.”
“Other than obviously singing our pieces, we also do sight reading as a group at the assessment,” Pimentel said. “They kind of put us on the spot. It was really rough for us.”
“Last year, we did really good at it and got 1s,” said McMahan. “This year, it just fell apart. It didn’t effect us getting 1s on the performance, though.”
Pimentel said the choir will be adding another piece for state.
“We’re required to have three pieces when we go to state,” he said.
“We may change out the pieces,” McMahan said. “I’m not sure if we’ll do the same ones.”
Galvan said the choir is working on a variety of pieces right now to see which ones they will include in their state performance.
“The music program is booming at Green Forest,” Solorzano said. “[Duarte-Black] is doing a lot. She gives us the ability to do this well.”