Vermillion musicians part of All-State Chorus and Orchestra By Parker Knox
Plain Talk Public Television does an excellent job each year of bringing the live All-State Chorus and Orchestra concert into everyoneâ�?�?s home, but this is one of those years when the event is close enough to home that Vermillion area music lovers can see and hear the spectacle in person. More than a thousand of South Dakotaâ�?�?s elite high school musicians have convened in Sioux Falls to prepare for Saturdayâ�?�?s grand concert, the sound and color and thrill of which are nearly impossible to match anywhere else. Vermillion High School will have eight members in All-State Chorus, the number permitted for schools of VHSâ�?�?s enrollment size.�? Those students are chosen�? by whatever means�? each schoolâ�?�?s director selects.�? Vermillion will also be represented in All-State Orchestra by four musicians who earned their spots at one of five regional auditions overseen by the same judges traveling statewide. The orchestra members from Vermillion who will be part of Saturdayâ�?�?s 8 p.m. concert at the Sioux Falls Arena are Alexa Thomson, first violin; Jenny Sun, second violin; Janani Ragothaman, second violin, and Jiwen Li, B-flat clarinet. â�?�?Iâ�?�?m really excited to go to the rehearsals and hear the songs come together with the whole chorus,â�? said senior alto jade Van Kley, who is going to her second All-State Chorus. Senior bass Philip Munkwold, who has been to All-State twice before, said â�?�?seeing all of my friends I have met from other schools at various activitiesâ�? is one of the highlights of the event for him, â�?�?and listening to our improvement from our first rehearsal to the final concert.â�? â�?�?Having fun singing with a large group of great singersâ�? is what makes the event special to D.J. Donahoe, senior bass who has also been part of two previous All-State choruses. The chorus will perform five selections on its own and three jointly with the orchestra, starting with an arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner and concluding with the familar Peter Wilhousky arrangement of Battle Hymn of the Republic. â�?�?Battle Hymn is really cool,â�? said sophomore alto Ellen Brown, anticipating her first All-State Chorus experience. Shannon Jepsen, senior soprano, agreed that Battle Hymn will be â�?�?awesome when we get it all together.â�?�? She is a first-time All-Stater. That particular selection has â�?�?so many moments where the song can just overwhelm the audience,â�? said sophomore tenor Doug Kronaizl, who is headed to his first All-State. Sophomore soprano Emily Van Den Hul, a first-time All-State singer, shares a similar opinion about anticipating Battle Hymn, but she offered that a Moses Hogan arrangement of Walk Together, Children will be equally intense for chorus and audience alike. There is ample incentive for a schoolâ�?�?s All-State singers to go to Sioux Falls well-prepared. At the first rehearsal the names of schools are drawn from a hat for spotchecks where singers are tested for their knowledge of the music they will perform.�? If they pass, they stay; if they fail, they go home without participating. â�?�?I got spot-checked my freshman year,â�? said four-time All-Stater Dan Davies, a senior tenor, â�?�?and its difficulty was way overplayed.â�?�? The others who havenâ�?�?t experienced it, however, agreed that it could be a nerve-wracking experience. Vermillionâ�?�?s All-State musicians have been prepared at home by vocal director Trisha Fisher and instrumental director John Alpers. Arena doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, but the box office will open at 10 a.m. for those who wish to buy tickets early to avoid standing in line at night.�? SDPTVâ�?�?s live telecast begins at 8 p.m.