B-U musical groups earn statewide accolades

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County choral students have been busy this winter performing in state ensembles.
Sean Crites and Kason Currence made the very prestigious West Virginia American Choral Directors Association All-State Chamber Choir.
“This choir is limited to only 64 students across the state,” B-UHS choir teacher Jeremiah Smallridge said. “They must pass a rigorous audition in which they must not only know their music, but also demonstrate their skills as musicians through sight singing and tonal memory.”
Several students represented Upshur County in the WVACDA All-State Junior High Choir which is open to students in the seventh through ninth grade.
“These students had to pass a school level audition and learn the music before joining over 300 other students at the event,” he said. “We had four kids from the high school and two from the middle school.”
The students included high schoolers Kalen Harley, Turner Hymes, Kyia McGill and Bethany Lee along with B-UMS students Isabella Davis and Lexi Coffman.
Dawn Hymes is the choir teacher at B-UMS.
Eight Buckhannon-Upshur High School students were selected for the West Virginia All-State Chorus, hosted by the Vocal Association of the West Virginia Music Educator’s Association (WVMEA), according to Smallridge.
Jordan Lofton, Currence, Charlie Presar, Crites, Star Winemiller, Megan Talbott, Iris Kolenich and Tiffany Ross were part of the 256-strong all-state chorus.
“Each student must pass an audition to attend and each school is limited to auditioning only eight singers, one per part,” Smallridge said.
All eight B-UHS students who auditioned made the chorus.
The audition consists of the students learning the literature ahead of time and performing it for three judges, he added.
As reported previously, teachers Brandon Williams and Robin Samuels took a group of elementary students to the WVMEA All-State Children’s Chorus where they performed with elite elementary students across the state.
Smallridge said his students put in a lot of hours before, during and after school to learn the music for auditions and performances.
“We meet before school at 7:30 a.m.,” he said. “We come in during our lunch times and after school. It’s a big time commitment but it pays off because they get to make music at the highest level. They are performing with the best of the best throughout the whole state.”
Additionally, Smallridge was chosen by his peers across the state to be in charge of all-state chorus auditions next year and will be auditioning students across the state with two other people in each region.
“I’m looking forward to hearing kids across the state and getting to work with all these directors,” he said.
Last weekend, the concert choir and the elite choir, the B-UHS Soundwaves (chamber choir) competed in the Martinsburg Concert Show Choir Festival.
The concert choir came in third place. The chamber choir also captured third and earned the People’s Choice award.
Smallridge’s choir students will be performing Monday at 6 p.m. in the Public Safety Complex Community and Training room to open up a special city town hall meeting on youth engagement.
There will also be a concert Monday of Strawberry Festival week at 7 p.m. in Wesley Chapel. Stay tuned for details.

More In Local News