West students selected for virtual all-state choir

Meg Gross, Editor-In-Chief

This year for Bellevue West, 12 of 37 auditioned singers were selected for the Nebraska All-State choir. Though, due to COVID-19 restrictions, All-state choir looked different this year.

According to choir teacher AJ Reimer, the audition process was the same. 

“The audition itself wasn’t too different from what it’s been in the past,” Reimer said. “We had a 48-hour window to record the audition and submit it, so we set up a microphone and the computer in a practice room. They went in there one at a time, I hit record, they recorded their song, and then we submitted that online.” 

Reimer said that the auditioners were given a four minute song to sing along with additional singing exercises. 

“Along with (the song), they had to sing scales and arpeggios to prove that they have an accurate ear and good tone.” Reimer said.

This year, Reimer said that more students of all grades auditioned than ever before. 

“There’s only one song so everybody learns, so maybe that was a little bit more inviting to kids,” Reimer said. “But we had seniors, juniors, sophomores and even freshmen audition for it.” 

Of the 37 students who auditioned, senior Julia Catton sought to “put her skills to the test.”

“I chose to audition for all-state because it’s my senior year and I wanted to have my face up on the Wall of Champions,” Catton said. 

Similarly to Catton, sophomore Addi Stueve credited her decision to try out to her love for singing.  

“I chose to audition for all-state because singing is an extremely big thing in my life and I thought that if I made all-state it would make me more confident in my singing,” Stueve said. “It also just makes me happy to be pursuing things with singing.”

Stueve mentioned that the practice and preparation changed to accommodate for learning these songs virtually. 

“In a normal year, you would also get to meet a director and meet a ton of new people at the event but this year, it will all be over Zoom,” Stueve said. “Another thing is we only sang one song this year which was our audition song and our performance song. Usually you would sing three songs.” 

Once selected for the All-state choir, singers submitted a video of themselves singing the assigned parts of the song. 

“What we did was record a vocal video and a visual video that will be sent into the main people of the all-state program,” Stueve said. “It’ll be put into a big virtual recording.” 

Because of “going virtual,” All-state singers will miss out on a special experience of singing the concert in person. 

“I was fortunate enough to make it my senior year,” Reimer said. “I remember hearing 400 of the best voices in Nebraska singing and ones and sitting in the center of it being like, ‘Holy cow! This is awesome.’ These kids won’t have that opportunity.”  

Catton said that despite the virtual aspect of the choir, West students still found ways to make the process into a team-bonding experience. 

“Learning the music with everyone who auditioned at West was super fun,” Catton said. “Instead of making a bond with other singers in the state, I got to have a closer bond with people in the Bellevue West choirs, which I consider just as valuable.” 

Reimer said that despite the circumstances of the virtual concert, he’s still glad that students are being recognized for their hard work. 

“I’m glad they’re still getting rewarded for their talent,” Reimer said. “I’m glad they still get to be part of something.” 

On Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18 at 7 pm the Bellevue West Christmas Candlelight Concert will be livestreamed.  Livestream passes ($12.50) are available for purchase.  Pass sales will stop 5 minutes before concert time each night.