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    By Todd Martin

    Combining talented high school choral performers with top conductors, professional musicians and a beautiful classical piece of music results in a masterwork.

    In spectacular fashion Tuesday at the Killeen High School auditorium, 164 varsity choir students from the four Killeen ISD high schools performed Mozart's "Coronation Mass" under direction of clinician Karen Kenaston-French of the University of Texas at Arlington.

    That grand performance that filled the auditorium stage culminated a highly successful year for high school choir in Killeen ISD and a productive day of learning for high school choir students heading into summer.

    "Before you are 164 of the finest vocal students in KISD," said Fine Arts Director Karen Herrera of the top choir students on stage to perform alongside professional musicians.

    The concert included varsity choirs from Shoemaker, Killeen, Ellison and Harker Heights high schools performing individually and in grand finale on the auditorium stage. It represented the only time during the year all four school choirs perform together.

    The students worked most of the day first under the direction of the high school choir directors from each school and later under direction of a college-level director.

    Professional orchestra players and four soloists joined the high school choirs and visiting clinician for afternoon rehearsal and the culminating concert.

    "It provides a collaborative effort for all the choirs with a classical-sized orchestra," Harker Heights High School choir director Tommy Haygood said during the rehearsal.

    The students, mostly advanced singers and some highly decorated UIL competitors, learned under the direction of different conductors from neighboring high schools and from the university-level clinician.

    "They learn from a collegiate level choral director and from leading soloists in the state," Haygood pointed out.

    The experience of performing a major work with a live audience is possible through the collaboration of the multiple high schools and the district fine arts department, high school directors said.

    In addition to exposure to outstanding direction and a classical work of music, the evening provided a chance to celebrate an award-winning year.

    Varsity choir students perform throughout the year in concerts at school and in the community and some members compete up to the state level.

    Pointing toward the large choir standing behind professional orchestra players and singers, Herrera listed the accomplishments.

    A total of 50 earned All-Region status in adjudicated competition. Among those, seven made all-area and three made the top choir in the state - the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Choir.

    In concert and sight-reading competition, the four varsity choirs earned a total of 12 awards, including five Sweepstakes trophies.

    In solo and ensemble competition, 78 received superior ratings and 62 are competing at the end of May at the state level of solo and ensemble competition.

    Finally, Herrera said, 40 of the talented choir students are academically in the top 10 percent of their class.

    May 16, 2018

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