POINT PLEASANT — For two days, eight students from the Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School (PPJ/SHS) Choir will be traveling to Charleston for an elite performance.
The WVMEA (West Virginia Music Educators Association) Annual In-Service Conference will be held March 7-9 at the Charleston Civic Center. The W.Va. All State Choir, including Ben Browning (bass one), Blake Towe (bass two), Taylor Tatterson (alto two), Aubrey Alford (alto one), Corey Wheeler (tenor one), Luke Blain (tenor two), Avery Richardson (soprano two), and Morgan Miller (soprano one) from PPJ/SHS will be performing the selections “If You Love Me,” “As I Have Loved You,” “The Music of Stillness,” and “Veni Sancte Spiritus.”
Ethan Bartlett, PPJ/SHS choir director, explained this competition is open to all schools in West Virginia. Honor assembles and soloists perform throughout the conference and along with the performance by the W.Va. All-State Choir, there are also performances by the W.Va. All-State Band, the All-State Children’s Chorus, and the W.Va. All-State Orchestra.
Bartlett shared “blind” auditions were held for his students who wished to join his chamber choir and the top eight students from those auditions were chosen to participate in the W.Va. All-State Choir as each school is only permitted to bring up to eight students. A curtain was drawn for each student’s audition, the judging was based solely on the students’ vocal talents.
“They‘ve been working for the past few months on the audition music,” said Bartlett. “They’ve been working really hard, they all really wanted it. ”
Bartlett is new to PPJ/SHS this year, being a fresh graduate from Marshall University. For three years, he helped during the Point Pleasant Black Knight Marching Band summertime band camps and former PPJ/SHS Choir Director Crystal Hendricks spoke with Bartlett about taking over her position for when she moved to teach at a different school. He commented though he was an instrumental major in college, he was involved with vocal classes as well and was in his high school’s choir.
Bartlett has a total of approximately 250 students this year, about 110 being seventh and eighth grade students. The high school students are separated into three different choirs, including the chamber choir which is an “advanced placement” choir.
“I just hope that the kids enjoy it and I try to give them an experience they’re not going to get anywhere else,” said Bartlett.
Though his students still sing popular songs for his class, Bartlett is also introducing them to more traditional choral selections as that is where his choral background stems.
Following the W.Va. All-State Choir performance, Bartlett and his students will begin preparing for their annual dinner theater which is set for May 17-19. This year, the show will be taking on a different type of theme from years past. Bartlett explained the students will be performing mostly selections from musicals taking on certain performance techniques show choirs do. A few of the numbers will be from musicals such as “Hamilton” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.