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Six WHS singers qualify for state honor choirs

D.J. Berger (from left), Jonah McDonald, Aubrey Anderson, Orissa Nitibhon and Ivan Parga are Worthington High School sophomores who will participate in the statewide 9/10 honor choir this week. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)1 / 2
Senior Emma Jirele will be singing in the All State Mixed Choir this Saturday in the Twin Cities. (Submitted Photo)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- Fresh from their stage appearances in the recent Worthington High School (WHS) musical "Hairspray," six stand-out student singers will appear later this week with state honor choirs in conjunction with the Minnesota Music Educators (MMEA) annual conference in the Twin Cities.

"Being part of these auditioned choruses really is a great opportunity for students to grow as musicians," said WHS choir director Kerry Johnson. "I'm excited to see them push themselves musically and to see what's happening in Minnesota music on a slightly different level."

Senior Emma Jirele, an Alto I, was accepted for a second year into a Minnesota All-State Choir. In 2011-12, following a March audition in St. Peter that included a vocal solo, sight-reading and tonal memory tests, Jirele made it into the All-State Women's Choir; this year, she was delighted to be selected for the All-State Mixed Choir.

"We'll perform this Saturday at Bethel University after freshening up the music on Friday," detailed Jirele, who spent a music-intensive week in early August at St. Olaf College with her All-State choral counterparts. "It will be fun to catch up with everyone this weekend.

"One of the best parts of being in All-State choirs is the chance to work with all sorts of different conductors, because that gives you a good perspective on different vocal strategies and styles," she continued. "Also, being in All-State lets you meet many different people with similar goals from around the state, and we all want to work together to be good."

Johnson said Jirele's work ethic and innate skill combined to make her a two-time All-State vocalist.

"Emma is a very talented young lady who's worked really hard to achieve her goals," said Johnson. "I'm looking forward to hearing her in concert on Saturday."

In addition, five sophomores qualified via a blind audition process for the Minnesota 9/10 Honor Choir.

They are alto Aubrey Anderson, tenors Jonah McDonald and D.J. Berger, and basses Orissa Nitibhon and Ivan Parga. Both Parga and Berger made the cut as freshmen, too, so this is their second year as state Honor Choir members.

"For the 9/10 Honor Choir, the kids had to submit a recording in October that included a folk song and a major scale," explained Johnson. "The recordings are then sent in and a committee listens to the tapes to choose who gets in.

"There are over 2,000 students who audition for this group, so only about the top 10 percent are admitted."

The sophomores will spend Thursday in rehearsals before performing a concert that evening at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

"These students have all come in to work with me on preparing their music about once a week since the start of January," noted Johnson. "Our fine arts kids work hard and deserve credit for all their efforts. They're doing a great job of representing Worthington, and Worthington High School."

And while doing that, they are simultaneously creating life-long memories for themselves.

"It all turned out for the best," agreed Jirele. "I would highly recommend to anyone who is thinking about auditioning for an All-State group to give it a try.

"It's an experience I will never forget."