WSMA High School State Honors Treble Choir Alto
Every Summer 430 of Wisconsin’s most accomplished high school musicians take over the music facilities at UW-Green Bay. For three days these students attend rigorous rehearsals to prepare for their final performance at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison at the end of October.
Eleanor Kuban, one of this year’s Otto Huettner Scholarship recipients, shares with you why she loves music and what she took away from her first summer honors camp experience:
As a lifelong choral member, I have always looked for opportunities to sing. I can remember no time in my life when I was not singing and when it was not a passion for me. I sang in choirs as a child and enjoyed it, and continued my singing all the way through my career as a student; however, only now, as a high school student, do I feel that I have begun to understand the true depth, importance, and meaning of choral music. I have been in the midst, in the very center, of countless songs coming to vivid, expressive life; I have been places I would never have visited, met wonderful people who would never have come into my life, and sung alongside my closest friends in the world. I cannot think of a more wonderful journey, or anything that I would rather do for the rest of my life. In the fall, I will go to college and begin an undergraduate degree that will lead me to a degree as a choral director; for now, I am content to learn as much about choral music as I can, and, of course, to sing.
After singing in the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, and the Waukesha West choirs, I’d received a fantastic choral education and learned to always seek out more opportunities to sing. I was informed of the auditions for the WSMA State Honors Choir by my high school choir director, and first auditioned for the WSMA State Honors Choir as a high school sophomore. At that time, I was placed as an alternate and incredibly honored. I auditioned again as a junior, and to my great excitement, was accepted as a first alto in the treble choir. I was incredibly proud, again, to have received the honor, and looked forward for the remaining months of the school year to attend the camp. I had never spoken to anyone who attended it and had no idea what it would encompass, but I eagerly awaited the challenges I knew were to come.
To me, one of the most striking aspects of the honors choir camp was the intensity and length of rehearsals- and the fact that every singer I was aware of was completely attentive and engaged in every moment. We began the camp with one such rehearsal and continued to work this way throughout the entirety of the three days, save for mealtimes and a few free hours. This method of rehearsing, although initially difficult to adjust to, was more beneficial than I could ever have imagined. Once I adjusted to the length, I was able to focus completely on the task assigned to me, and that enabled me to learn the pieces at an amazingly quick rate. In fact, these were some of the most efficient and effective rehearsals I have ever attended. I loved working at this accelerated speed and this intensity. I am always looking for a challenge in choral music, and I received that at honors choir camp.
Another impressive aspect of the honors choir was the talent of the singers. That would seem to be an obvious statement about students in any honors project; however, I have been a member of many very skilled choirs and truly enjoyed working with this group. Sight-reading new pieces was truly enjoyable. The students had great voices and the music came together beautifully. It was wonderful to witness. One of my favorite parts of music has always been to witness how each part comes together to form a complete piece. It fascinates me to hear individual parts that may alone seem simplistic or nonsensical intertwine with the rest and make not simply sound as before but music, and due to the talent of the honors choir singers I had the experience of seeing this done quickly and well.
In the past years, choir has become an incredibly meaningful experience for me, not only because of the music but because of the fact that to sing in a choir requires togetherness. I have heard it said that the word conspire means “to breathe together”, and I learned two things relating to that at honors choir camp. I realized that by the end of the camp, we had learned to conspire. We felt the music in the phrases and learned to sing in almost complete synchronicity. For a choir to be able to achieve that to the degree we did was amazing. I also learned that the construction of a good choir takes time. During the first rehearsals of honors camp, I thought of my choir at home: how the simple act of singing together every day tuned us so finely to our own and the other members’ unique singing that we could blend almost effortlessly. Together we were able to portray emotions I had never felt and didn’t know possible. We had had the time to spend with one another, we had put all of our passion into the endeavor, and it had given us results that I feel no one could have anticipated. I’m told that the treble choir will continue to do this in October- that when we come together then, we will learn more of ourselves, one another, and our singing. I feel that then, we will become a greater choir. We will build on what we’ve learned and improve it.
Above all, we will conspire.
Eleanor Kuban, WSMA High School State Honors Treble Choir Alto