A select group of Paonia and Delta high school junior and senior students performed recently with some 600 other choir members from across the state at the annual Colorado All-State Choir, held Feb. 1-3 in Denver.
PHS students Derek Holt sang in the men's choir, Cade Meilner sang mixed choir, and Jordan Evans sang in the women's choir. Delta High School choir director Julia Nicholas took two students to state choir. Stephanie Kleinsorge sang in the women's choir and Thomas Neil sang in the men's choir.
Unlike state sporting events, all-state choir members don't compete or perform by classification. Rather, students submit recorded auditions in October, then wait weeks for the results. All-state choir involves three days of intense rehearsal, and culminates in performances by all three choirs.
After being held the past eight years at the Bellco Theatre performing arts center, this year's event was held at the 2,839-seat Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre, the highest-grossing theatre of its size in the country. Because it's a true concert hall, the sound in the Buell is amazing, said Holt.
Holt, who has directed PHS choir the past four years, is a 1990 PHS graduate and two year all-state choir member. About 25 percent of the 1,500-2,000 students who audition are selected to perform at state choir. The tradition of sending North Fork area students to state choir was started "way back when" by long-time choir director Jan Tuin. Holt's senior year, Tuin took seven students to state choir.
Holt said she's honored to carry on that tradition. "But the biggest thing is that the kids still want to do it. They are able to go from this small school and really represent their little town."
A long-standing tradition that disappeared for a few years was revived this year. The "Balcony Sing" features all three choirs singing from indoor wrap-around balconies, the mixed choir from the upper floors, the women's from the middle floors, and the men's choir from the bottom tiers.
When state choir moved from Fort Collins to Denver, the tradition ended. Because the concert location changed this year, students stayed at a hotel with wrap-around indoor balconies on each floor. It was the first balcony performance in eight years, said Holt.
This was also the first year North Fork students auditioned for All-State Jazz Choir, held prior to state choir at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.
Separate auditions are held for Jazz Choir, and only 36 members, usually students attending schools for the arts, are selected. Five North Fork students auditioned, and Evans, along with Montrose senior Timothy Novak, were the only two Western Slope students selected.
The best part, said Holt, was that Evans sang a solo, which she called "a tremendous honor." Evans also managed to keep it a secret from Holt, who found out about the solo when she began singing during the performance.
Holt said it was awesome to have a student from Paonia, basically the smallest school to send students, represented in each of the four choirs.
Paonia choir students will perform at the annual PHS Dessert Theatre on March 23 and 24. This year's theme is "Broadway." The school will present the annual Spring Concert on May 14.