Talented music students across the United States and overseas in military base schools practiced with dedication during the 2014-2015 school year to gain a chair in their local, district and state music honor ensembles.
And, of those most elite high school musicians accepted to their district or All-State music ensembles, 673 of them — the “best of the best” — were selected for the National Association for Music Education’s 2015 All-National Honor Ensembles held in Nashville, Tennessee.
Harlan County High School students Shane Vanover and Shayla Dabe were two of only eight Kentucky students selected to participate in the prestigious event. Seven of the eight students from Kentucky were from Kentucky Music Educators Association District 10 which is made up of schools from Southeast Kentucky. Middlesboro Independent had one student represented and Laurel County had four.
Dabe performed in the Ensembles Mixed Choir for Soprano I, making her one of the top 44 Soprano I’s in the country. She is the daughter of Derek Dabe and Scott and LaBreska McKenzie. She is the granddaughter of Charlotte Blevins, Jerry Blevins, Wayne Dabe and Katherine Dabe.
Vanover performed in the Ensembles Mixed Choir for Tenor 2, making him one of the top 44 Tenor 2’s in the country. Vanover is the son of Sherry Browning Wolfenbarger and the late Kerry Vanover, and grandson of Julia and Ernest Vanover.
Jeanne Ann Lee, choir director at Harlan County High School, accompanied the students and participated in workshops offered for choral leaders. The workshops provided insight on implementing the National Core Music Standards in the classroom to empower students to be creative, collaborative, think critically, and better understand themselves and fellow students, as well as the world around them. The leaders learned how to give students the inspiration needed to learn and create in different ways. The theme focused on how music teachers “Empower Creativity” — in the classroom, and the lives of their students.
Lee said one of the most profound workshops she has ever attended was “Awakening Creativity in the Choral Rehearsal, Empowering Student Musicians Through Engaging Student-Centered Music Making” led by Christopher W. Peterson, professor of music at California State University. This workshop featured a demonstration choir from Brentwood, Tennessee under the direction of Laura Ramey. Lee walked away with many tips and techniques for engaging choral students through movement and visual cues.
During the event, students performed a gala concert at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry House.
The All-National Honor Ensembles Concert was only one of the many highlights for the four-day conference held Oct. 25-28.
The Honor Ensembles members represent creativity in its highest musical form. Teachers and school administrators attending gained insight on implementing the National Core Music Standards in the classroom to empower students to be creative, collaborative, think critically and better understand themselves and fellow students, as well as the world around them. Music teachers learned how they can give students the inspiration they need to learn and create in different ways.
The All-National Honor Ensembles consisted of a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed choir, and jazz ensemble. Students were chosen through a rigorous audition process. The concert band and symphony orchestra each had approximately 150 instrumentalists, the jazz ensemble 20 instrumentalists and the mixed chorus approximately 350 vocalists.
Eligible students qualified for their state-level honor ensemble program and competed against top students for a spot in these national honor ensembles. Selected students rehearsed a challenging repertoire in preparation for performing under the baton of five of the most prominent conductors in the United States: Ann Howard Jones (Mixed Choir); Jung-Ho Pak (Symphony Orchestra); Eugene Migliaro Corporon (Concert Band); and Sherman Irby and Todd Stoll (Jazz Ensemble). All conductors have received top honors in their field and spent several days rehearsing with students before the concert.
High School Nation kicked off the week’s events with the All-National Honor Ensemble students with an unforgettable interactive celebration on Oct. 25. One of the highlights of the event was a performance by the U.S. Army Voices made up of eight vocalists enlisted in the United States Army.