Students from Bartlett, Arlington and Bolton high schools were among those chosen as primaries or alternates for the prestigious All-State Choir during auditions in Jackson on Dec. 5.
Just to earn that audition spot, the students must have been selected from the Tennessee Music Education Association’s Southwest, Northwest, East, and Mid-State choirs.
Both primaries and alternates must learn new music by the end of January and audition a second time to secure their spots in the elite choir. Alternates get a chance to move into primary positions if the primary singers fail to learn the music as required.
The three Bolton High School students chosen for All-State talked about the effort involved and their joy in making the cut.
I was very ecstatic,” said Alexia Buckner, a Bolton senior and a second-year All State Choir singer. “I’ve been working very hard to bump my chair up from ninth chair last year to making it to third chair this year.”
She finds a sense of unity through singing in All-State.
“The best conductors work with you,” Buckner said. “My favorite part of being in the choir is coming together as a choir from so many different parts of Tennessee. It’s nice to see so many different faces and meet so many different people. We all come together to sing so many wonderful songs.”
Asia Smith sees All-State Choir as a chance to perform with other serious students who handle themselves in a mature, professional manner. Smith, a Bolton High School junior, is a second-year All-State Choir singer.
“I love the music and having everyone come together for the greater good without all the drama you see in high school choirs,” she said. “Everyone is there to sing.”
The third Bolton singer, sophomore Camilia Dillard, will be making her All-State debut performance.
“I feel very excited and grateful that I made it,” Dillard said. “I still have to try out again in January, but I’m happy to have the chance. Just being around the best singers in the state is pretty awesome. I’m looking forward to learning and growing musically.”
The school’s choir director Nathen Dumser encourages his students to audition for All-Southwest and then All-State. He knows from firsthand experience what a rare opportunity it is to sing in these choirs.
“When I was in high school, I made All-State choir and worked with Dr. Stroop. It’s really great because the best of the best come together to create beautiful music that some colleges won’t try because it’s so complex,” Dumser said.
He was very happy about his students’ performances at the auditions.
“The students who made it to All-State are passionate about music,” he said. “They really believe what they do is worth it. It sustains them, manages stress, and builds team effort. I’m really proud of all of my students.”
Students from all three local public high schools were chosen for All-State:
- Bartlett High School: Primaries are Skyler Winton, bass; and Isaiah Sackey, bass. Alternates are Waverly Walkins, soprano; Hannah Rouse, alto; and Daniel Dawidow, tenor.
- Arlington High School: Primaries are Emma Wieland, soprano; Ava Jackson, soprano; Grace Hughes, alto; Sarah Gray, alto; Mariya Fedotova, alto; Grayson Inman, tenor; Mason Mitchell, tenor; Jack Vandewinckel, tenor; Chase Belnap, bass; and Harper Wagner, bass.
- Bolton High School: Primaries are Camilia Dillard, soprano; Alexia Buckner, alto; and Asia Smith, alto. Alternates are Hannah Walton, soprano; Claire Ward, soprano; Jessica Collins, alto; and Patrick Wallace, bass.
Written and photographed by John Collins, special to the Express. He may be contacted via email.