Music instructors from Rocky Mountain and Lovell High Schools are singing the praises of their vocal students who made the all-state choir after auditioning in early November at Powell High School.
Three students from RMHS and nine from LHS will now travel to Sheridan for an event that will be held Jan. 19 – 20. After a few days of intense practice, the session will conclude with the students’ participation in a performance featuring the best high school vocalists and instrumentalists from throughout the state.
Rocky students Casey Banks (Bass II), Gerardo “Joe” Beltran (Bass I) and Wyatt Horrocks (Tenor I) were named all-state.
It’s the third time for Banks, who also made all-state choir as a freshman and as a junior.
“He is definitely a very talented singer,” said instructor Nick Tolman. “He is also a great leader and was choir president this year. He is very responsible and always on top of things.”
Banks said he has always liked singing and comes from a very musical family. He said he thought the audition was very challenging.
This is the second year in a row that RMHS sophomore Gerardo Beltran made all-state. As a freshman he was Tenor I, but due to a voice change made Bass I this year. Tolman said this is pretty common with boys his age.
“Gerardo is a really hard worker,” said Tolman. “For him, that is a big thing. He knows how to manage his time and he works very hard preparing for the audition.
“I think 90 percent is due to hard work. Some have natural ability, but it is those who work hard who get this honor. That includes kids like Gerardo.”
Wyatt Horrocks, a freshman, said he was very surprised to make all-state. Though Tolman encourages all freshmen to audition, not many receive the honor.
“Though this is his first year making the all-state choir, it has been in the making for some time,” said Tolman. He is a good singer who won his room last year at Showalter (music festival) and he put a lot of effort into preparing for this audition. I wasn’t surprised by any means. His attitude is really good. He is very positive and always on top of things. He works hard to be the best he can be.”
Tolman said he encourages his students to begin auditioning as early as possible because the audition is very difficult and getting used to the rigors of the audition takes time for some students.
“It’s not just preparing the material,” he explained. “It is like a live performance. You only get one shot and that is when they turn on the microphone. There are no ‘do-overs,’ which creates a lot of pressure on these kids.”
LHS Instructor Linnea Dickson said she is very pleased to see nine of her outstanding vocal students receive this honor, including Emilie Asay (Alto II), Afton George (Alto II), Jamie Kite (Soprano II), Kaitlyn Mickelson (Soprano II), Paul Montuy (Bass I), Hunter Tippetts (Tenor II), Drake Welch (Tenor II), Mirando May (Soprano II) and Logan Hitz (Bass II).
Dickson described May as a “hard worker, who loves music and has a great ear.” This is the second year receiving this honor for May, a sophomore, who also made all-state as a freshman.
George is a strong alto, said Dickson, who will work on her part until she gets it. This is the second year George, a junior, has made all-state. She also made all-state in her sophomore year.
Dickson described Kite, having a “light lyrical voice.” She added that Soprano II is a very competitive part and that Kite worked very hard to receive this honor.
Sophomore Mickelson is also making all-state for the second year in a row.
“She has a very beautiful, clear soprano voice and reads music very well,” noted Dickson.
This is the first time Montuy, a senior, has been named for all-state choir.
“I would say Paul is the most improved singer I have this year,” said Dickson. “He can sing tenor or bass and he keeps everyone else on track with his singing.”
This is also the first year of making all-state for sophomore Tippetts.
Dickson noted that Tippetts can also sing tenor or bass, reads music very well and is a hard-worker.
This is the second time Welch, a senior, made all-state. He made all-state, as a junior.
Dickson said, “He has a beautiful high tenor voice and can sing just about anything.”
May, a junior, is also making all-state for the second time.
“She has a beautiful dark soprano voice, can also sing alto, writes her own music and plays guitar very well,” said Dickson.
Hitz, a freshman, is making all-state for the first time.
“This is quite an honor for a young man to make all-state as a freshman,” said Dickson. “He reads music very well and has a nice developing bass voice.”
With around 600 vocal students auditioning for the honor of all-state choir, Dickson noted that the audition is very competitive. She added that she has been pleased in her many years of teaching vocal music at LHS to have so many rise to the top in their abilities.
“I think part of it is the churches, part is in the blood and it just keeps recycling year after year,” she said. “I’m teaching kids of kids I taught before and the talent seems to be just endless.”
By Patti Carpenter