Singers Audition for Zoom Choir


Carleigh Graham

Competing in All Virginia Chorus, Jake Miller is ready to sing.

A melody fills the chorus room where a masked student stands performing before their socially distant audience of peers. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, chorus students freshman Jake Miller and seniors Julia Calvert and Cheyenne Ennis auditioned for higher level choirs this year. Miller and Calvert qualified for the All Virginia Chorus of Virginia State. Additionally, Calvert and Ennis qualified for the Senior Honor Choir.
The All Virginia Chorus and the Senior Honor Choir are “highly selective honor ensembles,” said chorus teacher Joan Bacot. “I wanted to be a part of this experience because it is super fun. You learn so much by working with the choir director, and you get to meet new people,” said Miller. “I was ecstatic when I found out I was in the All Virginia Chorus.”
Miller started chorus in the eighth grade. “I got involved with chorus because I have always loved to sing. I wanted to keep my singing skills up to date, and chorus was the best thing for that,” said Miller.
Calvert has been in chorus since she was in elementary school. She has been part of the All Virginia Chorus for the past three years and was also part of the National Chorus, which took place this past winter. “I take every audition opportunity that I get,” said Calvert. “Each state [or] national choir is unique and can help me gain skills to become a better solo and group singer. So I do as much as I can to be involved in as many choirs as possible.”
Starting choir in the fourth grade, Ennis used to sing her church youth chorus. “After my solo from the Christmas concert, I saw how fun it was to sing on stage,” said Ennis. She was surprised to make the Senior Choir but it gave her “a boost in confidence.”
Students auditioned by singing the same prepared song, “Deep River” by Harry Burleigh. They also completed “a ‘sight singing’ exercise, singing a short passage of music never seen before,” said Bacot. “It is rewarding to find out that my audition has successfully landed me into that chorus, and getting into a chorus tells me that I did a good job,” said Calvert.
Leading up to the event, “students will be given music and practice recordings, so they do most of the preparation themselves. I will usually go over the pieces with them just to make sure they are on track,” said Bacot.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s performance will be made of Zoom calls and student recordings put together by sound engineers. “In normal times, students who are selected for the choirs spend two to three days rehearsing with renowned directors, then present a concert,” said Bacot. The release date of the final YouTube video performance is undetermined but, once uploaded, will be available to the public.
Bacot encourages all of her students to participate in the district’s honor chorus audition as part of the National Association for Music Education (NAFME), an organization that sponsors district, state and national honor ensembles. Normally, she has multiple students qualify. After that, “they have the option of auditioning for the more advanced levels,” said Bacot, where less students qualify.
Bacot is “thrilled that [her] students were selected. It builds their confidence and gives them the opportunity to work with the best singers, directors and accompanists in the state [or] country.” According to Bacot, COVID-19 has presented many challenges for choir students. “It has been incredibly frustrating not being able to sing freely as a group. These extra opportunities allow serious music students the chance to participate in something amazing, even if it is virtual,” said Bacot.

provided by Julia Calvert
provided by Cheyenne Ennis