Twenty Sequim High School students were accepted to attend Washington’s All-State Choir in Yakima in 2018. At top from left are Evan James, Thomas Hughes, Jonathan Heintz, Jax Thaxton, Adrian Funston and Damien Cundiff; in the middle row are Joey Oliver, Joe Benjamin, Eden Johnson, Kaitlyn Davis, Eva Lofstrom and Shelby Wells; in the bottom row are Gabi Simonson, Isabella Fazio, Abby Norman, Audrey Hughes and Amanda Weller. They are 17 of the students selected to participate. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
SEQUIM — In all the years choral teacher John Lorentzen has taught at Sequim High School, he has never had as many as 20 students selected to participate in Washington State’s All-State Choir.
“We usually get anywhere from 6-12 [students], so getting 20 was a big deal for a small school like Sequim,” said Lorentzen, choral/vocal music director at the high school and Sequim Middle School since 2011.
All-State Choir is a statewide event where hundreds of students from across the state send in audition recordings of their voices to a committee of specialists who listen to each voice type and select students from all the submissions.
Lorentzen said he has the students from his vocal ensemble class audition for All-State to gain experience as musicians.
“They are 300 of the most talented and dedicated students and it raises the bar so they are performing at a fairly higher level,” Lorentzen said.
“They can go above and beyond what they normally can do in their regular curricular programs and then they bring a little piece of that back to us.”
There were a total of 29 Sequim High students that auditioned for All-State Choir.
The 20 students selected will be sent to Yakima in 2018 where they will rehearse day-in-and day-out from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18 with other students leading up to the grand concert Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Yakima Convention Center.
“They are sequestered for three days; they eat, sleep and breathe with these people for those three days,” Lorentzen said.
He said this year there were new components for the auditions including sight reading — singing a melody they’ve never seen before and maintaining their part — and sending in a recording of their voice via computer.
Students also have to specify which voice type they are.
This opportunity also gives students a taste of what a college experience might be like by rooming with strangers from across the state for three days, Lorentzen said.
For some students, it’s a way to gain experience and make lifelong friends.
“Going my freshman and sophomore year I learned and gained so much as a singer,” said Abby Norman, one of the All-State students selected.
Norman said one of her roommates from attending All-State freshman year is still a friend today and they might be roommates again in college.
“The first two years I’ve gone are definitely memorable experiences,” said Joey Oliver, another all-state student.
“It’s cool to hear the sound of amazing musicians around you.”
“You never know what you’re capable of until you just get out there and get the experience,” Shelby Wells said.
The students will receive music to practice in January and will rehearse until they leave for All-State in February.
Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected]
Sequim High School vocal ensemble students and All-State Choir participants Gabi Simonson, Isabella Fazio, Abby Norman, Audrey Hughes and Amanda Weller recite a song in the choir room at Sequim High School. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)