Thornton Academy senior Kaleigh Hunter is one of a handful students from the State of Maine accepted to perform with the All-National Honors Choir at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida this month. Kaleigh is a current member of TA’s Chamber Singers and Treble Choir under the direction of Catherine Murray, and has been accepted numerous times to the District I Honors Choir and the Maine All-State Choir.
Director of Vocal Music Cathy Murray shares, "Kaleigh has been my student for 4 years in Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Chamber Singers and the Spring Musicals. If students score well in the Maine All-State Choir audition, I offer them the opportunity to audition for the National Choirs. Kaleigh is outstanding and received the top soprano score in the District and in the State last year. She is one in a million and so this is the first year that I encouraged a student to audition for Nationals. She is one out of only 8 singers from the State going to the Festival."
To earn her spot, Hunter went through an audition process that included a song selected by the committee and a vocalists' choice.
"I was a given portion of a song I had to learn called My Mother's Words by Andrea Ramsey. The other was an optional piece of my choosing. I picked a recording of me singing an Italian song that I learned for Districts and All-State." Hunter said.
The All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) performers represent collaboration and creativity in its highest musical form. The All-National Honor Ensembles consist of a jazz ensemble, mixed choir, guitar ensemble, symphony orchestra, and concert band. The jazz ensemble will have 20 instrumentalists, the mixed choir 240 vocalists, the guitar ensemble 47 guitarists, the symphony orchestra 122 instrumentalists and the concert band 121 instrumentalists. Eligible students have qualified for their state-level honor ensemble program and competed against top students for a spot in these national honor ensembles.
To prepare for the audition, Hunter worked closely with Murray.
"Mrs. Murray has coached me to this big success. She knows what judges and other teachers want to hear in an audition and gave me good feedback on what I needed to do. Additionally, she is the best choral teacher. I have taken her classes for four years and still continue to learn and grow as a musician because of her." Hunter said, "I am preparing (for the performance) by practicing the music sent by the conductor. There are about eight songs that I have to learn the soprano part for. I listen to recordings online and read the music to memorize my part."
Murray has helped many students prepare for auditions at all levels. She shares, "my students are well prepared for all vocal auditions because we spend a lot of time preparing for these opportunities. They learn sight-reading as well as how to sing with good breath support, intonation and tone," Murray said.
Selected students will be rehearsing a challenging repertoire in preparation for performing under the baton of five of the most prominent conductors in the United States: Todd Stoll (Jazz Ensemble); Dr. Amanda Quist (Mixed Choir); Dr. Michael Quantz (Guitar Ensemble); Dr. Jean Montès (Symphony Orchestra); and Dennis Glocke (Concert Band). All conductors have received top honors in their field and will spend several days rehearsing with students before the concert.
After Thanksgiving, Hunter will take the trip down to Florida to practice and perform with other members from the All-National Honors Choir.
The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 60,000 members, the organization is the national voice of music education in the United States.