Return to Headlines

Students chosen for state honors chorus

Four high school students chosen for the state honors chorus

Four students from Gaston County Schools were chosen to participate in the North Carolina Music Educators Association’s (NCMEA) high school honors chorus. 

Nate Kang and Tristan Nogueira of Stuart W. Cramer High School, Isaac Londeree of Ashbrook High School, and Erin Watson of Forestview High School sang in the honors chorus concert at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem on November 7.

Auditions were recorded and submitted electronically. Approximately 750 students sent in an audition video, but only 176 students from across the state were selected.

Ashbrook High School choral teacher Philip Biedenbender said it takes a great deal of courage to stand up and share your voice, knowing that someone is listening to and judging your performance. “All auditionees deserve a round of applause for putting in the time and the effort required for honors chorus preparation,” said Biedenbender. “Unfortunately, the NCMEA just can’t take everyone.”

Forestview chorus teacher Steven Austin praised Watson for being selected as a member of the honors chorus. “Erin is incredibly hard-working and has dedicated four years to the choral program. I could not think of any student more deserving of this wonderful opportunity,” he said.

For Watson, her chorus roots began in church. “I have been singing for as long as I can remember,” she said. “The first time that I have the faintest memory of singing is performing at church when I was three years old.”

Watson feels confident that she will be able to bring what she learned in the honors chorus back to her school.  “Being in a great choir makes you want to apply everything you learned to your own choir,” explained Watson. “I hope that my school choir is able to learn from me some of the things I have experienced.”

Unlike Watson, Londeree began singing in the sixth grade at Holbrook Middle School. 

“I initially wanted to be in the band, but I didn’t want my parents to pay for an instrument so I chose chorus instead,” said Londeree, who credits his middle school chorus teacher for his love of singing. “Music is the best way to change, provoke, and convey emotion. It connects us as people in a way that nothing else can.”

Londeree said having the opportunity to work in a state choir with other talented students was a rewarding experience. “I absolutely loved it, and maybe I will have an opportunity to do it again as a senior.”

Nogueira’s love for music goes back to when he took chorus at Belmont Middle School. 

“I have been singing for as long as I could speak. It was something that I only did in the car,” explained Nogueira, who also has performed in many school theater productions. “I never took voice lessons, and only began singing at family events once I joined my middle school chorus.”

During his time at the NCMEA conference, Nogueira was reminded that a singer must have fun before music can become great.

Music has always been an escape for Kang when life wasn’t always going his way. 

“Music kept my mind at bay and allowed me to bring my mind and body back in harmony,” said Kang. “Music is life, and it’s all around us.”

Kang added, “The relationships made at the honors chorus clinic show just how simply knowing your true potential and that of others around you creates a mutual respect among fellow singers and music enthusiasts alike.”

This year’s NCMEA conference was a two-day event, and students spent one day rehearsing for a concert on the final day.  Each year, a nationally-acclaimed guest conductor spends time with the students, preparing them for their performance.  Dr. Julie Yu of Kansas State University served as the 2021 guest conductor.  At Kansas State, she is responsible for overseeing the undergraduate choral ensembles and the master’s degree in choral music program.  

In addition to learning songs and preparing for the concert, students had the opportunity to learn about music programs at colleges and universities and fellowship with others who are interested in choral music.