- Pennell Elementary School
District Choir is held at Sun Valley
PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE THREAT OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, THE PMEA DISTRICT 12 CHORUS CONCERT HAS BEEN MOVED TO FRIDAY, JANUARY 17 AT 7:30PM. THE SATURDAY CONCERT HAS BEEN CANCELED.
Sun Valley continues to see its vocalists qualify for district and regional PMEA Chorus Concerts. What makes this year even more momentous is that Sun Valley will be hosting the concert weekend from January 16 - 18. Sun Valley Choir Director Nicole Moyer has been planning the event since last year and is ready to welcome students and their families as well as the members of the PMEA board, choral directors from other PMEA schools, and choir conductor Dr. Ryan Beeken.
Dr. Beeken serves as Director of Choral Activities at Wichita State University where he conducts the Concert Chorale and Women's Glee Club, teaches choral conducting, and oversees the choral area. He'll prepare the students for their final concert Saturday morning.
A collaborative weekend
Students from 32 schools in Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia Counties arrive on Thursday, January 16 when they audition to qualify for the next regional event late February. After a welcome meal they begin a long process of rehearsing the music they have been working on separately since September. Students spend another full day on Friday rehearsing together in the Sun Valley auditorim before being treated to dinner and a social event in the evening. By Saturday morning they know whether they've qaulified to move to the next honors event before performing for their directors and families at 11:00am.
This year, ten Sun Valley students auditioned with four moving on to the prestigious District 12 Chorus Concert. Victoria Carsillo, Levi Das, Senta Johnson, and Chiara Robinson were all chosen among 162 other students to participate. They will have the opportunity to audition for a more competitive regional choir during the weekend event.
Being prepared for PMEA auditions requires preparation, drive, and dedication, said Moyer. She works with her students from September to prepare for district auditions.
"We learn the audition pieces as a full choir before our winter concert," explained Moyer. "I am teaching the pieces in class every day and as they get closer I allow time for them after school to work together on the music. I hope that encourages more of my students to take the audition."
Hosting the event has offered those who didn't qualify or audition a unique insight into the process of preparing for an honors choir. While Moyer was soley responsible for preparations including booking hotel blocks, securing catering, and assigning audition slots, she tapped into parents and students to assist with stuffing envelopes, collecting tickets, and preparing music packets for the attendees.
Junior Chiara Robinson observed that involving the entire Sun Valley choir community in the process could inspire more students to participate.
“Many students have been extremely helpful in the process of setting up. Mrs. Moyer has also offered choir students the opportunity to watch the process of putting the music and program together. I love that this opportunity of hosting is giving others the chance to see an awesome experience and concert within our community.”
As Sun Valley Choir Director since 2015, Moyer has sheperded students to District, Regional, State, and even National choirs. In 2016 she saw Jacqueline Scheck qualify for the prestigious All-National Honor Ensembles Mixed Choir Concert held in Texas. Jacqueline was the first Sun Valley student in history to go to nationals. And in 2018 a record nine Sun Valley students qualified for districts with another three qualifying for regionals. It is a memorable experience that many musicians point to as a highlight of their high school music career.
"The students have the opportunity to meet people who are interested in singing and performing," Moyer said. "It’s a change because all of the students are the most advanced from all of the high school programs and they relate on a higher level. They enjoy meeting new people and learning from the director too."
The work is intense during the weekend and students must be prepared with multiple pieces ready in their voice range. After regional auditions, they practice together for nearly ten hours for the final concert.
Senior Victoria Carcillo is looking forward to the opportunity of being a part of this event in her own school.
"Being able to perform in my home auditorium is not only very special to me because I can add another great experience to the many I've had here," she explains "but it is also an amazing way to wrap up my high school career. I will remember all of the great friends I have made bonding over something we are all passionate about!"
Moyer feels great pride in her students who will be performing on "their own turf" Saturday. She knows that their hard work has earned them a place in the District 12 Chorus Concert and that their dedication to their craft will show during the concert.
"It's an inspiring experience to see all of those young people performing at that level," said Moyer. "Parents are so thankful for the opportunity, but some don’t know how wonderful it is until they attend. It is amazing. They think WOW this is awesome."
To learn more about the event and see the program, go to the District Chorus section of the Sun Valley website.
You can order tickets to the Friday concert online or at the door for $5.