MT. PLEASANT — Five students from the Mt. Pleasant Community School District have been chosen to participate in the thirty-second annual Opus Honor Choir Festival.
Fifth-grader Gabrielle Wilson, sixth-graders Ashlynn Beauchamp and Oliva McCormick, eighth-grader Natalie McCormick and ninth-grader Cason Edwards auditioned alongside 2,600 students from across the state and were chosen to fill 720 spots for the festival, which is run by the Iowa Choral Directors Association.
“Kids put in countless hours of practice before the auditions. Auditions are recorded then sent in and then they’re blind judged by other choir directors across the state,” Philip Schroetter, the choir director at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, explained the process of getting selected to participate in the festival. The students were recorded singing an excerpt of “My Country Tis of Thee” and a scale for their auditions.
“It’s pretty selective for the most part,” Schroetter added.
Edwards, the only high school students to participate in the festival said he’s most looking forward to “just getting the whole experience, seeing all the people. Just standing on the stage looking at the audience is a big ‘wow.’”
“We’re proud of the work they do,” Schroetter said of what it means to see his students selected to participate in the festival.
“It’s great that they get this experience. It’s a challenge to them to do it but to get together with the best singers from across the state, it’s just wonderful,” Shari Moeller, the director of the elementary chorus, explained.
Across the district, over 350 students participate in the choir programs. In addition to Schroetter and Moeller, Marlene DePreist directs the high school choir program.
The Opus Honor Choir Festival will feature guest conductors Roger Jensen, who will lead the Fifth and Sixth Grade Honor Choir; Joseph Tangen, who will lead the Seventh and Eighth Grade Bass Clef Honor Choir; Collete McCellen, who will lead the Seventh and Eighth Grade Treble Clef Honor Choir; and Dr. John Flanery, who will lead the Ninth Grade Mixed Honor Choir.
The honor choirs will perform on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. in the C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in the Iowa State Center in Ames.