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RHS Varsity Choir takes the stage at a statewide level

Students grin excitedly for the camera, in preparation for their upcoming local showcase prior to their engagements in other parts of the state.
Courtesy photo, Daryl Gingrich, Rifle High School
Students grin excitedly for the camera, in preparation for their upcoming local showcase prior to their engagements in other parts of the state.

Rifle High School’s Varsity Choir students are traveling quite a bit this semester, with a significant number of them accepted to honor choirs throughout the state and one prestigious event.

KDNK News Director Hattison Rensberry has more.

"Rensberry: "Measure Me Sky" written by Jonathan Reid, sung by the Rifle High School Varsity Choir. Student Brooklynn Dennis had this to say about the piece.

“This song is most inspiring to me. The first time I heard it I cried. It was so beautiful and inspiring because of the sound and the words.This song gives peace in my heart and reminds  me of life and growing up.”

The song is one of five choral pieces that will be performed at the Broadmoor Hotel for the Colorado Music Educator Association’s 2024 conference.

This is far from the first time Rifle High School has been to CMEA’s annual meeting. As a high school student there I also attended the conference and had the chance to represent Colorado’s Western Slope on a state level. I was one of the students who got to experience multiple honor choirs and even one year at the Colorado All State Choir. So when Daryl Gingrich, my high school choir director who still teaches the same Rifle High School choirs I participated in, got in touch to talk about his students’ achievements and upcoming performances I happily accepted. 

Gingrich: The choirs around the state, they'll submit in May, and they get divided into different categories, there could be seven categories one year, there could be six the next, there could be eight the next. The categories come down to high school and middle school, and within high school, there's kind of four different categories, possibly five when you think about jazz choirs, contemporary a cappella, mixed choirs and women's choirs, or I should say treble choir.

So there's quite a few different schools that will submit and so they break them apart into those categories and the people that are on the council are deemed at the task of finding groups that they believe represent a high quality of musicianship in those auditions.

And so we take about anywhere from 16 to 17 ensembles ranging from middle school to high school.

Rensberry: That’s Daryl Gingrich. This year he says an exciting number of his students were accepted into regional and statewide honor choirs. 

Gingrich: This is the highest number of students we've ever had make it from Rifle High School. We had 28 students make it into this one honor choir. And I'm very happy with the work that the students put in. (I’m) a little nervous about taking that many kids but hopefully that also pays off in our future, because, you know, with this choir that is going to CMEA, it is primarily senior. And so hopefully that pays off in our future because these younger students have been working really hard and, and getting that opportunity to go to the honor choirs.

Rensberry: In a state-level stage where, unlike football matches, there aren’t necessarily winners and losers it can be hard for parents, higher ups, or other students to understand how these opportunities can present as valuable besides serving as a bolster for college applications. Gingrich says that the school administration has been supportive, and that students carry with them benefits of these experiences long after graduation.

Gingrich: On some levels, it will inspire certain kids to go forth and actually pursue music or even theater as a career.

And it also will help them with just learning to meet new people and getting to interact with them.

And a while ago we had a lady that, she worked for CMC, and she stopped me in the hallway, she's said ‘you’re the choir director’, and she said, ‘congratulations on the students you had to make all state, she goes, ‘I remember when I made all state when I was in high school.’

And the lady was probably 45, 50 at that point, and she goes ‘to this day, it still sometimes makes me cry when I think about the beautiful sounds that we were able to create while we were at all state.’

So how does it impact them in their future? It gives them lasting memories also.

Rensberry: The next song is Ezekiel Saw the Wheel, by William Dawson. Varsity Choir student Jasmine Vera Valle wrote about the experience of working on music like this. She says QUOTE

“A lot of our songs embody what most every human being experiences in life, emotions and events. We find many artists find ways to show the impact and beauty that come from the range of pain and happiness. Past and future are both terrifying. One is filled with either regrets and mistakes, and the other with uncertainty and the full “unknown”. Yet, we never get the chance to understand the past and future balance with each other. Honoring the past victories, mistakes, laughs, cries and all in between. And waiting to make the same victories, laughs, cries and all of it. In a corny and cheesy line, it’s life. And life has its beauty hidden and shown.” 

For KDNK News, I’m Hattison Rensberry."

The Rifle High School Varsity choir has a preview concert for community members on Tuesday, January 23rd, beginning at 7PM. The show is expected to be short, and all tickets are available at no cost.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.