All-State Choir, Orchestra Members Named

Six choir and one orchestra student earned All-State
By: Todd Martin
Killeen ISD can claim some of the most talented musicians in the state, including six members of the All-State choir and one member of the All-State Orchestra.
It takes a combination of raw talent, mixed with hours of preparation and some impressively steady nerves under pressure to make the cut for the most exclusive scholastic choir in the state.
Following the final round of auditions Saturday, January 8, four Harker Heights High School choir members, one from Ellison and one from Killeen emerged as All-Staters.
Harker Heights High School sophomore Hanah Kim earned a spot on the All-State Orchestra following an earlier, separate audition process.
Harker Heights High School All-State Choir members are senior Andrew Bailey, juniors Jose Nava and Rebecca Mack and sophomore Elena Bryan.
Ellison High School’s All-State Choir member is junior Lilyanna Gonzalez.
Killeen High School’s All-State Choir member is junior Audrey Frisch. In addition, KHS senior Josh McMiller is an alternate.
The All-State Choir audition process begins with a regional tryout, with top finishers progressing to pre-area and area before the state competition. 
The result is a boys’ tenor and bass choir, a girls’ treble choir and for those with the highest scores, the mixed choir.
Harker Heights HS All-State Choir
Harker Heights High School junior Rebecca Mack made fifth chair as an alto 1 in the All-State Treble Choir. “It was really great – very exciting,” she said. “It was fun to be around the other students in KISD.”
The path to All-State is about six months, beginning with receiving music in the summer and continuing with daily rehearsal. “We motivated each other,” she said, complimenting her classmate, Elena Bryan for encouraging her on. “It’s all about the work you put in.”
Junior Jose Nava earned fifth chair as a bass 2 in the All-State Tenor-Bass Choir. “I was super happy,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice. You have to study the music. There is some sacrifice involved, but we love it.”
He said rehearsing in class, hours of study and more rehearsal on his own and the adjustment this year to an in-person rehearsal helped him fully express himself.
Sophomore Elena Bryan earned second chair as an alto 1 and senior Andrew Bailey earned first chair as a tenor 2 in the top All-State Mixed Choir.
“It was really unexpected,” said Bryan, who said she still wasn’t fully convinced she earned the second chair in the state’s top choir. “I wanted to show I can do this. I never thought I would get second chair.”
“I love choral music and I want to prove to myself that I’m good enough. Rebecca was a great support for me. We work together. I’m proud of all the students in KISD. We stay connected and support each other.”
“It was unbelievable,” said Bailey, the first chair tenor 2 singer in the All-State Mixed Choir.
The difference from past years, he said, was a lot of work. He attended camps, worked with a voice coach and the school directors and said he was patient through the long process.
“This is a big deal because it’s the whole state and it’s something I love to do. I enjoy the beautiful sounds we make.”
Sophomore Hanah Kim earned All-State orchestra honors for the second year, improving from 48th to 41st statewide. The hard-working violinist said she gets nervous and that she uses the nerves as motivation.
“I really enjoy the music. I get nervous and that helps in competition. There is actually science that proves it and I love science,” she said.
“I realized recently that the performance is not just about playing the right notes,” she said. “I enjoy the music. It helps me go along peacefully.”
Ellison HS All-State Choir Lilyanna Gonzalez
Gonzalez earned third chair soprano 1 in the state’s mixed choir. As a sophomore last year, she made it as fifth chair in the treble choir. Now, she’s a two-year All-State choir member with a goal to make it three in 2023.
“I’m very excited,” she said, recalling the achievement less than a week ago. “There is a lot of competition, especially for the soprano parts for girls and I managed to do it.”
“It’s insane to think I have that streak now,” she said of earning the All-State designation twice.
While she always enjoyed singing, it was Gonzalez’s mother who urged her to try choir in middle school. She credited Patterson Middle School Choir Director Gerald Nicholas and Ellison Director Amy Triggs for their coaching.
She also acknowledged that she practiced a lot. “It probably got excessive,” she said, explaining the four and five hours a day she practiced leading into the auditions. “I wanted it bad.”
Killeen HS All-State Audrey Frisch
Killeen High junior Frisch was similarly thrilled to improve from last year’s audition to earn a spot in the state’s top choir.
After trying out since seventh grade, this year was the first that she made it to Pre-Area and Area and Frisch was thrilled to hear her name called as the eighth chair in the All-State Treble Choir.
“It was surprising for me,” she said. “I always thought of All-State as something other people did. I was hoping I made it and I just squeezed in.”
The Killeen junior said she thought it helped her this year to get to do an in-person audition in contrast to last year’s virtual process. She also credited her voice coach and KHS Choir Director Cristal Conner for working with her extensively.
There are plenty of outstanding musicians, Frisch said, who don’t make the top state choirs. “It’s an achievement for sure,” she said. “One mistake in any audition and you’re out.”