Choir students accepted for All State through virtual auditions

After months of planning and rearranging, the Iowa All-State Music Festival was canceled, leaving high school musicians wondering what that meant for the audition process and the music they had spent time rehearsing. Students were still allowed to audition remotely through videos, but the festival itself remains canceled. 

For senior Katherine Lawson, it was going to be her third year attending the festival. In order to prepare for her audition, she spent time in rehearsals the weeks leading up to recording. “I attended before and after school rehearsals for around three weeks to learn the music. We also practiced the music in concert choir, which helped me understand how my part worked in combination with the other parts,” Lawson said. 

She said that while it’s disappointing that the festival itself was canceled, she also misses the group dynamic of previous audition years. “In previous years choir participants would audition in person with quartets made up of a soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. This year, we auditioned alone with recorded videos for a virtual audition,” Lawson said. “It’s bittersweet that this is my last year. The quartets and in-person audition day were my favorite part of the All-State process, and it was very different auditioning without them. I’m glad there still was an audition process, but it’s not quite the same.”

Junior Isaac Morlan was looking forward to his third year at the concert as well and encountered similar difficulties, attributing some to the individual auditions. “My biggest obstacle for the process this year was just how different it was and how vulnerable it made me feel compared to other years. Singing by yourself with more challenging music is a difficult thing,” Morlan said. “The way I got over this was by practicing singing by myself a lot and by hearing from other things to improve on.”

Lawson said that the biggest challenge she faced was not being able to rely on other group members. “My biggest obstacle was finding motivation. This year the only person you had to rely on was yourself, so I had to make the choice whether to keep laying in bed or actually get up to go and practice my music,” Lawson said. 

Morlan said that although the audition process was different, he still managed to find ways to make it work. “My favorite memory of this process this year was when Mr. Kranz made me sing one of my favorite songs, which was purely instrumental, to get me to sing out more, and my friend walked in very confused as I was singing a trumpet line from a jazz piece,” Morlan said. 

For Lawson, the biggest change this year was missing the actual audition day itself, where all the choir students would bus down to the audition location and spend the morning warming up together. “My favorite memory of All-State would be the early 5 a.m. breakfasts at Mr. Kranz’s house. Every year, on the morning of auditions, everyone meets at Mr. Kranz’s house and eats breakfast before singing through the audition cuts for the first time,” Lawson said. “There was just something special about the 28 of us sitting on the floor and attempting, and failing, to sing high notes over a plate of breakfast casserole at 5:30 a.m.”

After their hard work toward auditioning, both Morlan and Lawson were accepted into All-State. “I felt proud and content when I got accepted,” Lawson said. “I think it was a quiet but comforting closure to my three years of All-State.” 

Morlan said that being accepted was a big relief. “I was very happy when I got accepted because I was very nervous. With this year being so different, I think a lot of people didn’t know what to expect, so I was very happy when I got the message that I made it,” Morlan said. 

As for the future, both plan to continue to incorporate music into their lives. “Right now, I plan on double majoring in college, with one of those majors being musical theater, which will definitely incorporate my love of singing within it,” Lawson said. 

Morlan said he has similar aspirations but isn’t quite sure exactly what they will look like yet. “I plan on continuing music in my future for as long as I can. I love music and want to use it every day for the rest of my life,” Morlan said. “I don’t know if that means music being involved with my profession or not, but music will be a part of my life.”

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