Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 23, 2012

Big honors come in a song

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Learning musical pieces in a variety of languages and standing alone auditioning before judges; not an easy gig but one well worth the effort for a bunch of Pauls Valley choir students.

It was no reality show to be sure but the results much the same for a group of student singers who came away from a big audition with some pretty big honors.

A total of four PV high school and middle school age students have been named to a district honor choir for the East Central Oklahoma Choral Directors Association, also known simply as ECOCDA.

Earning the honors are senior Elissa Nobles, sophomore Kimberly Bethune, freshman Samantha Sweat and seventh-grader Jackie Daniel.

Kara Cloud, now in her fifth year as Pauls Valley’s school choir director, said the honors are a big deal as the PV students auditioned earlier this month with nearly 2,000 singers from all over the region taking part.

“It’s like pre all state,” Cloud said.

“This is not all state, but it is a big honor. It’s something they can put on their academic resume,” she said.

The way the auditions worked earlier this month is each student went into a room and individually, one right after the other, sang from behind a screen so judges couldn’t see who they were or which school they attend.

The auditions were tough enough but the preparations maybe more so, Cloud said.

“My whole choir prepares for four to five weeks and learn two pieces of classical music; at least one in a foreign language,” she said.

It was even more stringent for the high school students, who learned three pieces with two of them in Portuguese and Latin.

“We are small but we always have a good percentage of our choir selected to this,” Cloud said about her Pauls Valley choir.

“Pauls Valley is starting to get a name for that. We’re small but we’re mighty.”

The honor of being named to the ECOCDA choir is not a new one for Nobles, a 17-year-old senior now in her ninth year of choir.

She says it still feels good to receive the honor even though it’s her fifth time to be named to the district choir.

One reason is she just really loves to sing.

“I’m determined when it comes to singing,” Nobles said. “I was really young when I started to like singing. Singing has always been my passion.

“Being in the choir has definitely helped improve my singing. I plan on being a professional in singing,” she said, adding her plan after high school is to major in vocal, possibly at Oklahoma City University.

The PV students named to the honor choir will next sing on Nov. 6 during a performance open to the public in Guthrie.

For their teacher, the students’ selection and the upcoming performances with three honor choirs based on age represents an important opportunity for all of them.

“It’s a chance to learn difficult classical music,” Cloud said. “They’re getting exposed to collegiate level music, and they’re very successful. You can see the students really grow after this type of festival.

“They’re also getting the opportunity to work with world renowned conductors,” she said.

“It’s a big deal year.”

Cloud added Bethune is auditioning this weekend for the first of two rounds to determine all state honors.

A new fundraiser is also underway as local choir students are looking to earn enough money to get new choir uniforms.

Cloud has been told the current uniforms go back as far as the mid-1980s. The hope right now is to get the new uniforms by Christmas, Cloud said.