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Wayne sees 3 students placed in state Honor Choir

November 12, 2018

WAYNE — The last time Wayne High School was represented in the West Virginia High School Honor Choir was the year 2000.

That was until three Pioneers — none of whom were born at that time — were selected to represent WHS in the prestigious choral group in January 2019.

Less than a week after their Nov. 3 audition on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College, junior Savannah Rice and seniors Elijah Williamson and Kobe Stephens were notified by a school-wide intercom announcement that they had been chosen to perform in the honor choir Jan. 24-26 in Charleston.

“When I heard my name called, I just started crying in the middle of class,” Rice said after she was blindsided by the announcement.

Stephens and Williamson had a bit of warning prior to the announcement, but both said it still was an exciting moment.

“We knew they were going to make the announcement because my brother texted me and told me that Mr. Ellis had handed (Principal) Stapleton a paper saying something about the honor choir,” Stephens said. “My first reaction after I got the message was to run down to the choir room and ask who had made it in because I wanted to know right then.”

The High School Honor Choir can include up to 100 singers in total each year, but the final number is dependent on the number of students who auditioned and the overall standard of auditions throughout all voice parts.

Six WHS students tried out this year, but a rigorous audition process selects the best of the best from around the state for the choir. In addition to preparing the three set pieces from the repertoire, the students were

asked to sight read one example, prepare minor scales and clap two given rhythms, one in simple meter and one in compound meter, during the audition.

According to WVWC Director of Choral Activities Daniel Hughes, 81 students were selected out of the 137 who auditioned from 20 schools around the state.

Williamson, in his senior year, was especially relieved to hear his name called after narrowly missing the cut when he auditioned for the same choir last year.

“I was the only one that tried out last year, so I guess I had a little bit of a leg up,” Williamson said. “I was six spots away and didn’t make it last year, but I felt more confident the second time around.”

His name was the last of three called, making him all the more anxious. Williamson said when it was finally called, he leaped out of his seat in excitement and began pumping his fists.

“Even I was nervous,” Wayne Singers chorus instructor Derek Ellis said, “because I’ve never had any of my students in the choir before and I didn’t ever get a chance to be in this choir before I graduated from Wayne, but now we have three that get to go through it instead of just one.”

The West Virginia High School Honor Choir will not meet as a whole until Jan. 26, 2019, but Rice, Williamson and Stephens will spend the next two months leading up to performance weekend learning and preparing the five selected pieces to be sung by the combined choir. Three of the pieces were learned for the audition, one will be made available to students in the coming weeks, and the final is a piece composed by Dr. Troy Robertson, the guest conductor for the weekend.

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