Sing Your Heart Out


Photography, Jaci Bethel

The seats in the Shryock Auditorium wait to be filled.

Fourteen different schools with about 275 students made the drive to SIU to perform in the High School Choral Festival on Wednesday, October 26th. The SIU choir festival is an opportunity for high schools in Illinois and Kentucky to send their most vocally talented students to a place where they can thrive. This event gives students a insight into what goes on behind the scenes of professional choir concerts as well as getting feedback for renowned conductors. Under the direction of Susan Davenport and Lorissa Mason, students were divided into six vocal groups: soprano one, soprano two, alto one, alto two, tenor, and bass. Soprano ones and twos are the highest vocals of all the groups, the twos singing slightly lower than the ones. Alto vocals are lower than the sopranos, tenor vocals are lower than altos, and bass vocals are the lowest. Sopranos and altos are typically women, and tenors and basses are usually men. The Treble choir, consisting of all sopranos and all altos, performed three songs, while the Tenor/Bass choir performed four. 


Herrin took eight students consisting of four sopranos, three altos, and one bass. The four participating sopranos were Allie Hancock (Junior), Kat Weaver (Junior), Branson Hill (Sophomore), and Isabella Ratchford (Freshman).  Along with the altos: Jaci Bethal (Junior), Savannah Kerley (Junior), and Asher Bible (Sophomore). Representing the men, Scott Frasier (Senior) participated with the basses. 


Everyone left bright and early that Wednesday to get there on time for warm-ups, welcomes, and introductions in Shryock Auditorium. Each section was then dismissed into different rooms for rehearsals. Singing in separate vocal groups helped to break down the parts for the singers and avoid any confusion. After an hour of just working in each section, the girls and guys combined into two different auditoriums to sing as groups. Following another hour of just rehearsing, each group broke for lunch at the SIU Student Center. While the girls said losing Scott was the funniest thing that happened that day, Scott met a new friend and a familiar face, Mr. L. Mr. L was a student teacher last year during the second semester. Frasier was able to reconnect with him and chat about future plans. Frasier said “he helped me a lot just by talking.” Once everyone had eaten, they had one more hour long practice. After, they reconvened once again for dinner and began getting ready for the performance. 


The ladies sang Angele Dei, Lunar Lullaby, and By the Rivers of Babylon while the men sang Gloria Patri et Filio, Sure On This Shining Night, If There Is, and Go Down Moses. Allie reflected that the girls “did really good for the little practice [they] had”. After a roaring applause for each performance, the vocalists piled into the bus to head home for a good sleep after a successful night. 


Succeeding the fun filled day, the participants had a lot to ponder after the amount of feedback they heard from professionals in the field. Kerley mentioned how “it was a competitive environment” among the sopranos. Ratchford rated herself “a good seven. I could have done better.” While there is always room for improvement, the Herrin High Chorus has a lot of musical talent that showed in their priceless performance.