HAZARD — Legato e pesante, rallentando, sforzando.
While many who are presented with these terms might assume they are in for a crash course in Italian, some students in Perry County have been using them for years — as chorus members.
Six Hazard High School Chorus members have been chosen to perform with the Kentucky Music Educator’s All-State Chorus this year.
Seniors Ariel Snider and Elias Hanna, sophomore Stephen Patula and freshmen Elanor Morris, Lauren Little, and Madison Howard will travel to Louisville to sing on Feb. 7 and 8, and will be the only choir members representing Perry County there.
Letha Patterson, choir director and teacher at HHS, said she has been sending students to the All-State concert since 1978, and she said the choir she is teaching now is one she is not surprised to see such success come out of.
“They’re very willing to do anything that you ask them to do,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the All-State Chorus is actually separated into two different categories, junior high chorus, which consists of seventh through ninth-graders, and senior high chorus, which consists of 10th through 12th-graders. Those trying out for the junior chorus had to submit an audition tape to judges, while senior chorus hopefuls had to perform a quartet piece and then a sight reading.
Hanna, a senior who is juggling five other extra-curricular activities along with choir, said he is excited to get to perform with the All-State Chorus as a senior after such a nerve-racking audition experience.
“It’s kind of a relief because we were really worried because we always heard that musical seniors usually don’t make it. There’s like this musician’s curse where if you want to do music in college then you won’t make it to All-State your senior year,” Hanna explained.
Hanna said he and fellow senior Snider felt like a weight had been lifted off of them to know they would be able to perform one last time in the chorus.
“That’s happened to a lot of seniors,” Snider said. “So it kind of freaked us out.”
Snider, a five-year participant in the All-State Chorus and an aspiring opera singer, said she not only looks forward to performing but also to seeing friends she has made in the chorus over the years.
“You can always expect to see all kinds of people that you’ve seen in the past All-States and that’s really exciting,” Snider said.
Though Hanna has only performed with All-State for two years, he said he is thrilled to be able to meet more like-minded peers.
“I’m excited because you get to meet other people that enjoy the arts like you do, so you have a connection to them already,” Hanna said.
Since almost all of those chosen from HHS also incorporate other extra- and co-curricular activities into their schedule, it’s hard to find time to fit practice in for the chorus.
“We do have some class time during chorus to prepare,” Snider said. “As a chorus we have a lot of performances during and before the time we’re supposed to be trying out for All-State … so we don’t have a lot of time after school to practice. We have to try to find times in school, and then like after we finish eating lunch, and do stuff like that.”
Patterson said the students who have been chose to participate will take more away from the experience than just an improved vocal portfolio.
“The confidence that they get from singing something like this is going to help them in whatever they do with their life. This could be a life changing experience,” Patterson said.
The concerts will be held at the Kentucky Center for the Arts; the junior high choir will perform on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the senior high choir will perform the day after.