Chosen for Honor Choir

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Two West Liberty middle school sixth graders were recently selected to participate in the 32nd Annual Opus Honor Choir Festival.

Mary Tharp and Amerie Alvarado, both in sixth grade, submitted three vocal recordings as part of the audition process.

Close to 3,000 students from across the state of Iowa were nominated by their music directors for 720 positions in the four Opus Honor Choirs.

In the end both West Liberty girls made the cut.

“It’s very nerve wrecking,” says Mary, “There’s a a lot of people trying to get in and you get really nervous, then you have to wait for a whole month before they tell you the results.”

This will be Mary’s second time being a part of the Opus Honor Choir Festival, which is made possible by the Iowa Choral Directors Association Inc.

She’ll be a part of the Soprano 1 group, the highest range for honor choir. She likes to sing along with songs on the radio to practice, like Blanca’s “Not Backing Down.”

“The hardest part about it all was the waiting,” she says. “But I sing a lot at home and my mom helps me out.”

She’s joined by first timer Amerie Alvarado, an Alto 2. The 700 plus student performance will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in the Iowa State Center in Ames.

“I’m excited and very happy, and I’m glad I made it in,” said Amerie, “We had to practice a lot after school but it was worth it. If walking is like talking then singing is like running.”

By that, she means it takes a lot of hard work and practice to get your voice on the right level. Amerie likes to sing school songs to practice.

This will be the biggest extracurricular activity she’s ever been involved with, but luckily she and Mary will be together.

“I was the only Alto 2 in our group,” said Amerie. “So I was expecting there not to be last of a lot of alto 2s to be auditioning for it so I thought I’d have a better chance of getting in.”

Music Director Brenda Miller will be accompanying the two to Ames, Iowa, for the big event. She’s proud of her two vocalists.

She’s gotten to know her two students very well as their director, and is the one who nominated them to be a part of the Honor Opus Choir in the first place.

“I’m super excited for them,” said Director Miller. “They worked very hard, I think it proves that hard work pays off no matter what you’re doing, whether it be music, academics or athletics.”

“These two ladies have good character, so that’s also a part of why they where selected and why they worked really hard,” she added.

That being said, the girls had to send in several music samples of them singing acapella to be considered, including a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and music scales.

Each recording is judged by a scale rubric that examines each student’s tone, rhythm accuracy, pitch accuracy and musicianship.

“As a director I didn’t receive any feedback after submitting their recordings to the judges, you either make it or you don’t,” added Miller.

In the end Mary Tharp and Amerie Alvarado made it. Good jobs ladies!
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