By Chelsea Corrao
For The Cordova Times
The Cordova High School music students are some of the hardest working students in the high school. Countless hours in the classroom paired with afterschool help and auditions lead to some students working on their craft seven to eight hours a week and that does not include practicing at home!
Every year as students return to school, one of the first things they do is sign up to audition for All-State, and every other year, All-Northwest. All-State and All-Northwest are auditioned musical ensembles where students gather from different locations and make incredible music together. The audition consists of scales, ear training, and excerpts. The students work on the auditions with music teacher Chelsea Corrao and when the “perfect” recording is established, it is submitted to the necessary organization.
This year, 854 auditions were submitted to the ASAA All-State Music Festival. Over 50 schools submitted auditions from across Alaska. We had four students accepted into the choirs at All-State: Autumn Deaton, William Deaton, Alana Esguerra and Madelyn Roemhildt. Autumn and Madelyn were selected into the Alto 1 section and Alana, the Alto 2 section, of the Treble Choir (all women) and William was selected to the Bass 2 section of the Mixed Choir (women and men).
To have four students selected is remarkable; there was only one other 2A school in the state that had more selected than we did. Once selected, students are sent music and asked to learn and memorize it before arriving in Anchorage for the festival.
From Nov. 15-17, these fine musicians traveled to Anchorage to rehearse with students from 40 different schools in Alaska. On Saturday, Nov. 17, they performed in a concert to showcase all their hard work. Corrao has been to All-State for four years now, and this was the first year each of the choirs made her cry. The music was moving, emotional, and created musical moment after musical moment.
The bad thing about the All-State Music Festival, is sometimes it overlaps with our Regional Volleyball tournament. This causes students to have to choose between being there for their team, or becoming a champion in music. But, there is another event that does not overlap!
Every other year, students are able to audition for the NAfME All-Northwest performing groups. This is a very similar set up to All-State in that auditions are created at home, submitted and selected by a panel of judges. Once selected, the musicians travel to a location to practice with the other selected students. However, as All-Northwest implies, it’s a much bigger playing field. Outstanding music students from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming audition for a spot in an All-Northwest ensemble. Over 4,370 auditions were submitted from across these six states and we had two students selected. Zya Taylor and Andrea Vargas were both selected into the Alto 2 section of the Mixed Choir and will be traveling to Portland, Oregon in February. Two students!? From our little school in rural Alaska!? What an accomplishment for these ladies!
Words truly do not express how these musicians feel when singing in superior groups. One of our students was so emotional after the All-State concert, they were in tears. They learn, they improve, and they bring it home to make our own choir better. The excitement these students express when finding out they were selected is equal to athletes winning state. It saddens most students that their music accomplishments are not as celebrated as our sports teams.
Corrao hopes this article will help shine light on our students who achieve at the highest level as an individual, who let themselves be vulnerable with their music, be criticized over and over just trying to make that audition one note better. Cordova High School’s music students work hard, strive for excellence, and are always looking for that next challenge. Congratulations ladies and gentleman! Let’s go Wolverines!
Chelsea Corrao is the music teacher at the Cordova Jr./Sr. High School.