The Rockford High School choirs and directors David Duiven and Mandy Mikita Scott are proud to announce the honor of having four choir students named to the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) All State Honors Choir. Senior Julian Mondragon and juniors Emilee Bodien, Jill Nelson and Hannah Schroeder traveled to Western Michigan University May 12-14 to rehearse and perform with some of Michigan’s finest high school vocal talent. The 120 singers in this prestigious choir were chosen from over 5,000 auditions in a two-step audition process. Following three days of intense rehearsal under the baton of Dr. Joe Grant, professor emeritus from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the All State choir gave the final concert of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival with a gala performance in Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium. Michigan Youth Arts Festival is an annual showcase that recognizes, supports and celebrates students throughout Michigan in all artistic disciplines.
As far as the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) is concerned, Rockford may just be the top choir program in the State. This year, Rockford High School had three choirs selected as part of the top-14 choirs in Michigan. Each year MSVMA selects the top choirs to perform at a special gala recital as part of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF). Only one other school in Michigan had more than one choir selected. This year’s recital is scheduled for Friday, May 14. Each of the RHS Choir Directors had an ensemble selected: David Duiven’s Chamber Singers, a mixed ensemble made up of all upperclassmen; Mandy Mikita Scott’s Women’s Chorus, an all-sophomore choir accompanied by Peggy Odren; and the extracurricular men’s ensemble, the Rockford Aces, directed by Jed Scott. As Mr. Duiven put it, “this is really the state championship for choirs. Having one choir selected among this group is a great honor. Having three selected is unprecedented!” Indeed, the last time a Rockford choir was selected was in 1993, though last year one choir was nominated. Said Mrs. Scott, “there are so many fine choirs across the State that many of the very best schools don’t even have one choir selected.” The selection is the culmination of a statewide multi-step process that began in January with District Solo & Ensemble Festival. Some 400+ choirs performed at 16 district locations; the highest rated were permitted to continue to State Solo & Ensemble in April. At the State level, they performed two classical pieces and were asked to sight-read a piece to demonstrate their musical skills. Of the 50 ensembles performing at each of the four state sites, six were nominated for MYAF performance. A four-judge panel made up of choral experts then listened “blind” to the 24 nominated recordings and selected the 14 that would perform. According to Ginny Kerwin, Executive Director of MSVMA, “The decisions by the listening panel were difficult because of the high quality of choral artistry displayed by all of the finalists.” The choirs selected for inclusion are typically the top curricular ensembles at each high school represented, like Rockford’s Chamber Singers. The other two choirs from RHS are less typical. As Mrs. Scott puts it, “to have an all-sophomore […]