The Bullard High School and Bullard Middle School choral programs have recently hit a high note of success, as several of the programs’ members were recognized for their singing abilities at the Region 21 Choir Solo and Ensemble Contest, held Saturday, Jan. 28, at Whitehouse High School and Whitehouse Junior High School.
For the BHS choir, a total of 29 students represented the program at the Solo and Ensemble Contest. The students were successful at the event, allowing a total of 19 students to advance to the state level competition.
“We took a total of 29 singers to Solo and Ensemble Contest this year,” said Kerry Baham, BHS choir director. “Through that, we were able to bring home 21 Superior-rating medals, with 19 students singing Class I solos from memory advancing to the state competition in Austin. Our singers now take great pride in their choir program. I am very proud of their hard work and achievements.”
According to Baham, the process of preparing for Solo and Ensemble Contest can be a rather time-consuming task, as students search for the perfect piece to perform for the judges.
“It’s a long process in picking out the solos,” said Baham, “because at the high school level, the kids don’t want to have any one else singing their solo. The solos are spread out over several different languages, including English, Italian, German, and French. We have a natural progression in the program that if they want to sing a Class I, they’ll do an English piece their first year, followed by Italian their second year, German their third year, and finally French their fourth year. The reason we do it in that order is because that’s the difficulty level in learning the languages.”
Baham said he enjoys challenging his singers with solos in different languages, allowing the students to achieve a new experience in not only singing, but their education, as well.
“One of the things I love about the solo competition is that in our area, it’s difficult to find instruction in different languages,” said Baham. “It allows the kids to have exposure in the languages they’ll sing in if they choose to go to college and become a music major, while also enriching their educational experience to be able to say they’ve sung in multiple languages.”
The BHS singers were the recipient of several praises from the judges at the Region 21 Solo and Ensemble Contest, including “Such a polished performance,” “Love your attention to detail,” “fabulous German diction,” “Beautiful tone and musical interpretation in French,” and “Great mature tone.” Baham gives all the credit to his singers for their level of preparedness going into the contest.
“The judges were very impressed with the kids’ preparation,” said Baham. “We try to train the kids to be as professional as they can, and you can see from year to year how the performances become for polished. They’re more comfortable in the competitive atmosphere and rely on their preparation.”
BHS choir members advancing to the State level competition after receiving a Superior rating on their Class I solos include freshmen Bailey Bower, Haley Brems, Hailey McCutcheon, and Isaac Sanders; sophomores Kristen Clark, Patrick Granberry, Josh Luper, Clara Smith, Hannah Stewart, and Kaitlin Woodard; juniors Will Brown, Kailey Consford, Lawrence De Vera, and Dylan Price; and seniors Audrey Dean, Hunter Dickens, Kayla Luptak, Katura Partker, and Andria Shackelford.
Singers receiving a rating of Superior on their Class II solos at the contest included freshman Lexi Hull and sophomore Lindsey Marsh.
Additionally, singers awarded with an Excellent rating on their Class II solo performance at the event included freshman Carissa Crocker; sophomores Meghan Brems and Brandon Mines; junior Zoe Sanford; and seniors Makayla Dublin, Vicki Kenock, and Hayley Kinsner.
Like the BHS choir program, the Bullard Middle School choir was also well represented at the Region 21 Solo and Ensemble Competition, bringing home a total of 20 Superior ratings.
“We took a total of 25 students to sing solos at the contest,” said Monica Hamilton, BMS choir director. “Of those 25, we had 20 students make a Superior rating, as well as five students receive Excellent ratings. We also took an ensemble to compete at the contest, which also made a Superior rating. The students’ performances were outstanding and I’m very proud of them.”
Hamilton said the choir begins to prepare for the Solo and Ensemble contest shortly after their final performance of the fall semester.
“Once we are done with our Christmas concert in December,” said Hamilton, “I begin to pull out different Class I, Class II, and Class III solos. I play through the solos and sing them for the kids to allow them to decide which ones they think they like the best. I get them copies of the solos before Christmas break and record their songs for them so they can practice over the break. When we come back, I listen to them individually and work with them. Starting at two weeks before the contest, they perform their solos in front of the entire class as if they were at the contest, which really helps them to work out their nerves.”
BMS singers receiving a Superior rating at the Region 21 Solo and ensemble contest included seventh graders Joshua Hawkins, Monte Hawkins, Shelby McIntyre, and Da’Shawn Wheeler; and eighth graders Brody Bradshaw, Mary Ehrman, William Fleming, Phenix Graham, Mason Honeycutt, Julie Hopkins, Meadow Loe, Jordan McKeown, Darin Nguyen, Grace Nish, Kaylee Nowell, Jason Oliveaux, Madison park, Charley Sneed, Karly Woodard, and Marykate Zirtzlaff.
Ensemble members receiving a Superior rating at the event included Bradshaw, Graham, Loe, McIntyre, Nguyen, Nish, Nowell, Oliveaux, and Woodard.
Additionally, BMS singers earning an Excellent rating on their solos including seventh grader Kaleigh Poe, as well as eighth graders Madelyn Brown, Kalista Galvan, Kyndle Schmidt, and Allie Schultheis.
“I’m always proud of these kids for what they accomplish,” said Hamilton. “For a lot of them, this is one of the outlets that they have to help them with their confidence and self-esteem levels. They have come very far. Our principal, Mrs. Hendrix always says it’s making what we do with these kids and turn it into. These little bits of encouragement and little accomplishments may seem small to us, but for these kids, it means everything.”