BERLIN — When a trio of students from the Hiland Choir auditioned for the Ohio All-State Choir last spring, they had no idea what they were getting into.
And after an electrifying performance at Cleveland’s Huntington Convention Center to wrap up the Ohio Music Education Association’s 2022 Professional Development Conference on Feb. 5, the three seniors say it was an experience of a lifetime they’ll never forget. .
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Lainey Miller is an alto II (lowest female voice), Madi Keim a soprano I (highest voice), and Brenna Moan (soprano II) represented Hiland High School as part of the All-State Choir, an ensemble of 100 elite members. singers from across the state, selected to perform a special rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and six pieces arranged by guest conductor Jo-Michael Scheibe of the University of Southern California.
The national anthem was performed from the balconies of their hotel in Cleveland.
“I don’t plan on pursuing music in college, so that experience is something I’ll keep forever,” Miller said. “I learned so many valuable things during that weekend. Hearing us all together (after regional rehearsals), it was amazing to hear the sound we were making. It was huge.”
It was challenging, but rewarding, Moan said.
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“There was something special about hearing a hundred people together,” she said. “The director pushed us so hard to always be focused, to always be ready to learn, and to fire up at all times. During the rehearsal of the spiritual “Ezekiel,” we sang the same 10 bars, about 15 seconds of music for about 15 minutes until it sounds perfect.”
Keim appreciated the support they received from teachers, friends and family.
Hiland High students take on the choral challenge
Hiland Choir Director Alexander Looney explained the training students underwent to be part of this elite program.
They have prepared six stimulating choral pieces over the past few months, including spirituals, a jazz arrangement of a pop song, an arrangement of a psalm and the special arrangement of the national anthem.
They attended two regional rehearsals in the fall where about 20 students gathered to practice, a one-day rehearsal in Columbus at Otterbein University in January, then two days of intense rehearsal with Scheibe in Cleveland, culminating in their performance to wrap up the OMEA conference. .
“We are so proud of these students for playing in this rigorous ensemble and for representing Hiland High School with excellence,” Looney said. “The students here at Hiland are second to none. When you have enthusiastic students, it’s easy to provide them with opportunities when they’re invested in the program and have bought into everything that’s going on.”
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A special honor to be chosen
Moan said she had no idea how selective the process was until she saw Looney’s enthusiasm about their success.
“Like Brenna said, I don’t think we realized how important it was until we got together for rehearsals and started working together,” Miller said.
All three expressed their gratitude for the time and work Looney put in to help them prepare.
“Mr. Looney taught us to work hard and start working early, and put a lot of effort into that stuff,” Moan said. “For us, it was second nature to have learned everything when we arrived.”
“He was always there, supporting us and encouraging us,” Miller added.
Life Changing Experience
Nothing about choir or other performances will be the same for these students after their All-State experience.
“We sang at such a high level for about 17 hours over two days,” Moan said. “We were producing such intense sounds in closed rooms. In the choir, when you’re super unified, you get harmonics, which are like higher frequency sounds. And that changed the way I look at music. I I used to rely on instinct myself, but now I see the director, and I try harder to be a precise musician and listen to the people around me.
“When I came home after spending the weekend with other people who love music as much as I do, I told my mom that I couldn’t just go back to a normal life. I want to do more “, she continued. “It confirmed for me that music is what I should be doing.”
“As I was doing really well with the music and understanding how to sing the music and the beats, something clicked in my brain, where everything started to make more sense,” Miller said. “I felt like I knew what I was doing, and that was great.”