Halfway to the goal: choir sees 15 singers pass region auditions


Mari Pletta

New Tech High @ Coppell senior Manasa Velamuri, Coppell High School senior Amrita Ghose and junior Swetha Tandri sing in a sectional during Aaron Coronado’s eighth period choir chorale class on Tuesday. Coppell had 29 singers individually compete at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Region 31 auditions at L.D. Bell High School on Sept. 26, and 15 made it through to the Pre-Area stage on Nov. 19 at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake. Photo by Mari Pletta

Akif Abidi, Staff Writer

A nervous commotion fills the air as students talk energetically in groups, awaiting their turn to be called into the room and perform for one of their biggest auditions of the year. 

Unlike his competitors, Coppell High School senior Ethan Koshy sits quietly by himself to the side, takes a swig of his water and reviews his music pieces for what might seem like the thousandth time. 

On Sept. 26, Koshy, like hundreds of others from all over Dallas-Fort Worth, traveled to L.D. Bell High School for the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Region 31 Audition, the second level of the rigorous selection process for the TMEA All-State Choir.

“Honestly, it’s very nerve-racking,” Koshy said. “You walk in, and you’re immediately faced with a curtain with the judges behind it. They’ve been there all day, and I know they’ve heard the same pieces over and over by hundreds of people. So you have to make sure to do something different to actually stand out from the rest of the competition.”

Koshy’s efforts paid off, as his name was later announced as one of the three Bass 2 CHS singers chosen for the next round of auditions. Earning their auditions at the TMEA District Auditions at Colleyville Heritage High School on Sept. 21, 29 Coppell singers participated in the regionals, but only 15 passed.

All singers follow the same auditioning format, individually performing three given pieces along with one sight-singing piece to a panel of judges behind a curtain. For the sight-singing piece, singers are given a piece and only 30 seconds to memorize it. Then, they must perform the piece and try their best to hit all the notes.

To prepare her students, CHS director of choirs Bona Coogle offers 30-minute long private practice sessions. But because the auditions are individual, singers often practice on their own time.

CHS senior and Bass 1 singer Emmanuel Maria was one of the 15 who qualified for the Pre-Area auditions. Like many others, Maria has a weekly private tutor and attends state choir camps during the summer. In the three weeks leading up to the district auditions, Maria began practiced an hour and a half every day.

“I got a perfect score on sight-reading in the audition, but it’s trickier for the three pieces,” Maria said. “Everyone is going to know their music to a T. It’s how you can differentiate your sound and portrayal of the piece that really matters. I usually focus on my dynamic contrast, things like my crescendos and decrescendos. Also, because your pieces are different languages, vowel placement on how you pronounce the words and consonants plays a big part.”

Coppell also saw many singers earn a spot on the Region 31 Honor Choir. Fifty-three singers in total took part in the Region 31 Choir Auditions, including the 9/10 Honor Choir along with the 29 students auditioning at the regions, but 41 placed.

“People who make it through the regional round advance to Pre-Area while also being in the Region choir,” Coogle said. “However, people who were very close to making Pre-Area but didn’t quite make it also get an opportunity to sing in the regional choir.”

Now, the 15 advancing singers will prepare for the second last stage of the all-state choir selections–the Pre-Area auditions. Held on Nov. 19 at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, singers will again have to learn three brand new pieces and practice sight-reading.

Singers that successfully pass the Pre-Area audition will compete at the area auditions, the final round, against the best singers from all over Dallas and its neighboring cities. 

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