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Marshall is music: MHS choirs earn top marks, judges' accolades at state competition

Monday, March 28, 2011

Marshall High School choir students, directed by Ron Sayer and accompanied by Julie Lewis, perform during the annual fall choir concert in October 2010.
(File photo)
Three of four Marshall High School choirs received top marks Friday, March 25, when they performed at the Missouri State High School Activities Association State Choral Festival in Boonville.

For two of the groups, the achievement extended streaks of a decade or more of receiving top ratings.

This annual evaluative festival featured the best performing groups from numerous high schools in the west-central area of Missouri.

MHS Singers, Choraliers, the combined Men's Choir and combined Women's Choir performed before a panel of three judges who gave verbal comments and rated each choir on such things as intonation, musical interpretation, musicality, diction and technique.

In addition, each choir had to perform a sight-reading piece that they had not seen prior to that performance. In the sight-reading portion of the festival they are given four minutes to look at and discuss a selection without singing any of the pitches and are then asked to perform the piece for a judge.

Ratings are given on a five-point scale, I to V, with I representing an outstanding, highly musical performance, and a V representing a poor performance.

MHS Singers earned a cumulative I rating including a I+ from one judge. The choir performed "The Garden's Last Red Rose" and "Battle of Jericho" by Kansas City composer Mark Hayes.

"I was very proud of my students' performance and delighted by one judge's comment thanking them for a 'truly superior performance -- always consistent great singing -- a well trained choir that is used to giving outstanding performances,'" said Ron Sayer, director of vocal music at MHS.

This is the 12th consecutive I rating earned by this choir at MSHSAA State Festival, Sayer said.

Choraliers earned a cumulative I rating including a I+ from one judge who told them they were "one very impressive high school choir!" Sayer said. The choir performed "I Am In Need of Music" and "Peter Go Ring Dem Bells."

This is the 13th consecutive I rating earned by this choir at MSHSAA State Festival.

The Men's Choir, which was the last choir to perform that day, earned a cumulative I rating including a I+ from one judge. The choir performed "Mighty Men of Song" and "Steal Away," which was composed by Missouri composer Howard Helvey and featured Brandon Pace on clarinet.

This is the 10th consecutive I rating earned by this choir at MSHSAA State Festival.

Women's Choir earned a cumulative II rating. The choir performed "Weep No More" and

"You Stole My Love," a contemporary madrigal.

The judges commented on the difficult literature that the Marshall choirs performed and how well they performed them," Sayer said.

"I was humbled by one judge's comment that the Marshall choirs were truly exceptional. It's good to know that our hard work is recognized by others," he said.

There were only four I+ ratings given by a judge at the festival, which saw individual ratings range from I+ down to a V, and three of those I+ ratings were earned by Marshall choirs.

"This annual event is among the highlights and goals for high school choir programs because it gives each school an opportunity to publicly demonstrate the best performance capabilities of their choirs," Sayer said. "Unlike solo and ensemble festivals, which are focused on individual students who choose to participate, choir festival is about the entire choir and their training and development."

The MHS choirs of Marshall High School also participated in the Central Methodist University Invitational Music Festival on Friday, March 4 in Fayette.

Representing Marshall were the MHS Singers, Freshmen Choir and Choraliers.

Each choir performed before a panel of three judges who gave ratings and comments based on the ensemble's performance. Judges ratings were then averaged to produce a final overall rating.

All three Marshall choirs earned I ratings from each of their judges. One judge commented that the Marshall choirs "were the best choirs I heard all day."

One hundred and four students from Marshall participated in this festival. In addition, several soloists performed before a solo judge for comments and ratings. Each soloists performed two selections by memory.

Soloists and their ratings were: Lexie McDanel I, Lauryn Jones I, Jacob Phillips I, Olivia Diehm II, Dylan Fornshell I, Susan Skogsberg II, Rachel Lockhart II, and Ryan Layton I.

The accompanist for the MHS choirs is Julie Lewis.

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