Purdy vocalist recalls singing in All-National Honor Choir

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Pictured are Katherine Wise, left, Purdy High School vocalist, and Lauren Lee, vocal director at Purdy Middle and High Schools, in Nashville on Oct. 29, 2014. Wise performed in the All-National Honor Choir. Contributed Photo

Wise says the chance gave her confidence as she aims to go into opera

PURDY -- A Purdy High School vocalist, who will perform at a state concert Saturday, reflected on her experience with the All-National Honor Choir in Nashville.

"I didn't feel out of place at all," said Katherine Wise, a high school senior who sings soprano one for the Purdy choir. "We all had the same passion, which was really refreshing to get to know people who care about something as much as you do."

The opportunity made her more confident because it reassured her that she was as good as she thought, Wise said.

"I want to be a music performance major when I go to college because I eventually want to go into opera," she said.

From Oct. 26 to 29, 2014, the National Association for Music Education hosted four national ensembles in Nashville: concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed choir and jazz band.

The ensembles included 670 students, and they comprised of about 30 Missouri students, said Lauren Lee, vocal director at Purdy Middle and High Schools. The mixed choir had 340 members, which included Wise and five other Missouri students. About 12 students traveled from Alaska.

The choir had many students from big cities, and about a fourth of the students came from New York state, Wise said.

After Wise made the All-District and the All-State Honor Choirs last school year, she said she then applied for the national choir in mid-May. She provided a video of her State Solo and Small Ensemble Festival performance of "Das Veilchen" that she sang in early May at University of Missouri. She also submitted recommendations with the video.

NAfME required a video because it wanted to evaluate every applicant's voice and stage performance, Lee said. In August, Wise found out she made the national choir.

After the Southwest Missouri All-District Choir performed an Oct. 25, 2014, concert at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Lee drove Wise to Nashville.

As the students rehearsed their performances, NAfME hosted a conference for teachers, educators, said Lee, who also chaperoned 20 girls in the symphony orchestra.

Starting Oct. 26, 2014, the national choir practiced non-stop in different ball rooms at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Wise said.

"We had one day where we practiced nine hours," she said.

The day before the hourlong concert, the choir practiced seven hours on Oct. 28, Lee said. The choir had five mixed pieces, a male piece and a female piece.

Edith Copley, director of choral studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, conducted the choir.

The choir mainly sang English pieces, Wise said. It had to sing Latin Renaissance and contemporary pieces. The choir also had to do a piece where it made Halloween-themed sounds and did choreographed scenes instead of singing actual words.

Her parents, Kevin and Ginger Wise; Kaden Propps, Purdy sophomore vocalist; Susan Funkhouser, Purdy Elementary School secretary and public relations coordinator for the Purdy School District; and Kim Utter, art teacher at the Purdy Elementary and Middle Schools, also traveled to Nashville for the national choir concert that took place in the Grand Ole Opry House.

She did not meet them before the performance, but Wise said she spotted them in the crowd during the concert.

Wise has sung in Purdy choirs for nine years. She has made All-District Choir each year since she was a freshman. She also sings in area churches, mainly in Monett and Purdy. She has two older brothers and an older sister.

Her family was excited and amazed that Wise made the national choir, Wise said.

Lee said she is blessed to be at Purdy and to work with her students over the last 11 years.

"They're talented, good-hearted, kind and courteous students, and they work hard, and they want it," she said. "I'm just so glad that I can help them out in any way I can."

This year, the Purdy High School choir has 60 students. Five students made All-District, and Wise was the only Purdy student who made All-State. The Missouri Music Educators Association and the Missouri Choral Directors Association oversee the auditioning process.

The state choir performs Saturday at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach. Cassville High School vocalists Levi Pollreisz, Kristen Cox and Parker Skinner respectively made a tenor chair and first alternates in alto and bass sections. Pollreisz and Cassville freshmen Sky Dill and Lisa Lambel made National Honor Choirs in Salt Lake City through the American Choral Directors Association. Those performances, rehearsals are Feb. 24--28.

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