For the second consecutive year, Hotchkiss High School senior Gratia Fisher and Paonia High School senior Jessie Holt represented their respective schools and Delta County at All-State Choir.
Presented by the Colorado High School Athletic Association, Fisher and Holt joined more than 500 other students in the three-day annual event, which culminated Saturday evening in choral performances at the Bellco Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
When hundreds of the state's best high school voices come together in harmony, it can be very emotional and moving, said Fisher, who attended the event with HHS music director Jeannette Carey.
Both students are two-time all-state participants and have been active in music all of their lives. In addition to their numerous community performances, both often sing the national anthem at school sporting events. Both are also honor students and student-athletes.
The path to all-state choir isn't an easy one. Jan Tuin, an all-state choir audition judge who taught music at PHS for 27 years, said that in first-round auditions in October, students must perform solos, sing major, minor, diminished and augmented triads, and major and minor scales. They must also sing intervals from a given pitch, and perform melodic and rhythmic sight readings. If selected for all-state, students are sent a list of literature that they must learn and memorize for their second audition.
Tuin said that Paonia has sent at least one student to state every year but one since 1980, and sent as many as nine in a single year.
About 25 percent of the 1,500-2,000 students to audition statewide who advance are given all-state honors, said PHS choir director Dee Holt. Before they can participate in the annual performance, they must pass a second round of auditions, held last Thursday at Metropolitan State University.
"It's pretty intense," said Holt. Auditions include a classical solo with a piano accompanist, and a solo. Students are judged in five categories: tone quality/technique, intonation, accuracy, diction and musicality. Students must demonstrate to a panel of judges their ability to perform sections of music for the final performance from memory.
Fisher said she was more nervous for her senior auditions than she was as a junior.
Following auditions, students are divided evenly into men's, women's, and mixed choirs. Rehearsals run for the three days before the final production.
Both school choirs will participate March 3-5 in the Western Slope Choral Festival at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. Fisher and Brandi Goddard will represent HHS at the event. Paonia will be represented by Holt, Britney Thliveris, Chelsea Meilner, Alicia Wil-
more, Haley Park, Jordan Evans, Poppy Lightfoot, Tim Helmer, Derek Holt, Jessie Burns, Caden Meil-ner and Gabe Ferguson. Also selected, but competing in regional sports that weekend, are Ashley Van Vleet, Brianna Van Vleet, Emily Pieper and Sean Devlin.
The audition process included solo work, sight-reading, aural recall and an a cappella sample, said Dee Holt. "I like to equate Western to making 'all-conference' and all-state to being 'all-state' as an athlete."