Sam’s SiNging Scores Spot in All-Nationals
By Vera Lin
“Breakfast. Rehearsal. Lunch. Rehearsal. Dinner. Rehearsal.”
Eight hour rehearsals for three days—that was the routine that senior Samantha Ng experienced while she participated in the All-National Mixed Choir in Nashville, Tennessee this past October.
“It was tiring, but it was also fun to work with our conductor, Dr. Ann Howard Jones,” Ng said. “She was very talented and sweet, so the work paid off in the end!”
All-Nationals is run by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), an organization created to enhance the quality of music education throughout the United States. Ng’s first step toward All-Nationals came when she was selected for All-State Choir. After participating in All-State, Ng sent in a recording for All-Nationals, for which she was then selected to sing Alto 2 for the Mixed Choir. To prepare for the three days she would be spending in Nashville, Ng practiced with recordings and sheet music provided by the NAfME.
Despite the lengthy rehearsal schedule, Ng found the experience to be more than worthwhile. She was able not only to work with talented musicians and conductors from around the country but also to perform at the Grand Ole Opry House, a venue that is well-known as being “the country’s most famous stage.”
“I learned the importance of focus, determination, and, most importantly, practice,” said Ng. “All-Nationals was a really amazing experience because I had the privilege of meeting talented and passionate musicians from all over the country.”
Ng began to pursue music in elementary school grade when her third grade teacher encouraged her to join chorus. Since then, she has participated in every one of South Middle and South High’s musical productions and is now the leader of South’s acapella group. She has also been selected for All-County from 7th to 12th grade. Being selected for All-Nationals was just another step in her musical career as she plans to continue singing in college.
Alto Aclin Ascends to All-National Choir
By Robin Shum
From Oct. 25-28, Senior Elora Aclin lived in the Gaylord Opry Plaza in Nashville, Tenn. as a participant in National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National music conference. There, she spent three days rehearsing with the 350-strong mixed chorus, the only voice ensemble in the conference (there were also orchestra, band, and jazz band ensembles).
This was Aclin’s last performance with a NafME ensemble; last year, she was selected to both the All-State and All-Eastern women’s choirs. All-State conferences are hosted every year, while All-National and All-Eastern conferences are hosted during alternate years. It is rare for a musician to be selected to both.
From each experience, Aclin knew she would meet “amazing people just as into music as [she was]” and make friends along the way, some of whom she wound up seeing again at All-Nats. In Nashville, she made friends from all over America, though most were from New York. “I knew that whenever I leave I’d be sad, and I was definitely sad to leave All-Nats,” Aclin said. “I think I was saddest to leave All-Nats because I knew I wouldn’t do it again.”
One thing she’ll always remember is the standing ovation her choir received after their performance at Grand Ole Opry, a famous concert hall that has hosted thousands of musicians since its establishment in 1925. “It’s this huge mecca of country music. Patsy Cline [a country and pop singer in the 1960s] performed there, and I love Patsy Cline,” she said.
But though the stage had much historical value, Aclin feels that it was the least extravagant of the halls that she performed in for her other NafMe concerts. “I was expecting [the Grand Ole Opry] to be grand and huge, but it was really tiny, and the acoustics were actually terrible,” she said.
When Aclin was not rehearsing with the choir, she and the rest of the students attended concerts, where they heard the U.S. Army’s singing group, a barbershop quartet, and two Broadway musical writers perform. One presentation she attended stressed the importance of music education. “It was inspiring because I want to be a music educator, and I know a ton of kids who also want to be music teachers. I think that’s important,” said Aclin, who plans to pursue undergraduate studies in vocal jazz performance and receive a masters degree in music education. For now, she is focusing on finishing up her college applications. “It’s annoying because I have to go through a pre-screening process where I compile repertoire that all colleges require. I have to dress up and get musicians together to record with me.” She even met one of the musicians she recorded with at All-Nats. After the pre-screening, colleges will then invite select applicants for live auditions. “It’s really stressful, but I know it will be worth it,” Aclin said.
She’s excited to continue studying music in college and is grateful for the opportunities she has had to work with other dedicated, talented musicians. “I love NafME because you get to escape from home for a few days, and when you’re there, you wake up super early, eat bad food, do music for hours with an amazing conductor and choir, eat more bad food, and hang out with people who are really cool—I could just live there!” Aclin said. “I wish I could go back.”
Ng and Aclin sung in the 2015 All-National Mixed Choir, which performed, among other pieces, “Laudate Pueri” by Wolfgang Amadaeus Mozart.