Drake Kelley and Dylan Corbett, seniors at Apache Junction High School, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive, have been named to the University of Arizona Honor Choir.
U of A holds auditions of high school students every fall and selects new members to participate in this special program.
Both Drake and Dylan went through a rigorous audition process that included singing a solo, sight reading music, as well as being tested on rhythmic acuity. In addition to the solo, they sang major/minor scales and performed other aural skills.
Once Drake and Dylan received news they were selected, the work continued. U of A sent the AJHS Music Department musical selections the young men had to learn including Brahms' He, Zigeuner, and Victoria's Ave Maria. The music arrived during Fall Break, but Andie Chung, choir director at AJHS, said both young men worked hard to learn it.
Once the two singing Prospectors went to U of A to perform with other Honor Choir members they spent six hours rehearsing with Dr. Elisabeth Schauer, the U of A Honor Choir director and also had mini courses with university professors. The next day, they had three hours of rehearsal and gave a concert at the end. The conductor was impressed with the results.
“Dr. Schauer emailed the high school teachers who had students participating in the Honor Choir and said she thought it was the best concert of all the honor choirs she ever conducted,” said Andie Chung, choir director for AJHS. “I am very proud of both Drake and Dylan and all the members of the choir.”
Ms. Chung said she was impressed with how the students remained focused on their work as a choir and how well they collaborated with people they had never worked with before. Both Drake and Dylan said they enjoyed visiting U of A as well as performing in the Honor Choir. Both Prospectors are considering the merits of becoming U of A Wildcats once they graduate from high school, and the duo plan on staying involved with music.
In the meantime Drake and Dylan are focusing on their high school work and extracurricular activities. Both are section leaders in choir --- Dylan with tenors and Drake with basses. Drake will showcase his vocal chops during AJHS’ performance of Grease on Nov. 7 and 8. He plays the role of Johnny Casino.
It’s more than entertainment and joy. Singing in a choir helps students develop discipline and even has health benefits. According to a study conducted by Harvard University, singing in a group boosts the immune system, reduces stress, builds confidence and promotes social skills. There are additional benefits.
“Choir has given me time management skills and made me a leader with helping others,” said Drake . “I’ve learned to think on my feet and handle a lot of different situations.”
Those “different situations” include working, traveling and performing with others. In addition to local performances the members of AJHS choir travel to Northern Arizona University for Jazz Chor and California to compete in regional/state trips for performances and competitions.
Both Drake and Dylan say they have developed great friendships with the 75 to 100 students who make up AJHS’ choirs.
“We tell each other about our problems,” said Dylan. “We share good times and we care a lot about each other and music.”
The AJHS choir performs four concerts a year at the high school and 10 community performances. The next scheduled event will be at the Winter Concert at 6 p.m. at AJHS’ Performing Arts Center on Dec. 11. To learn more about the choir, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Apache Junction Unified School District website at ajusd.org.
Editor's note: Sally Marks is the Apache Junction Unified School District's public information officer.