Patterson Choir Prepping for State

Patterson's state honor choir
By: Todd Martin
Patterson Middle School’s state honor boys’ choir received extra instruction from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor choral staff, toured part of the campus and posed for official photos for their upcoming state-level performance.
The 33-member middle school varsity boys’ choir is one of four middle school choirs statewide set to perform as an honor choir at the Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio in February.
More than 30,000 choral instructors will participate in the association’s 100th annual convention. About 2,000 or so will likely be in the audience for the Patterson choir’s big appearance.
The enormously elite honor marks the fourth time a Killeen ISD choir has been named a state honor choir and the first time in 20 years.
Patterson choir director Gerald Nicholas affirmed that his students are doing well learning the music they will perform.
They are scheduled to sing locally at an Ellison High School choir concert, as well as their own school concert at Patterson Middle School and an additional concert at First United Methodist Church in Killeen a week before they go to San Antonio.
KISD Fine Arts Director Karen Herrera said the state honor choir is the highest honor a choir can receive in Texas.
It’s rare for a choir director to earn the opportunity, but even more so for a young teacher like Nicholas, now in his fifth year of teaching.
“We’re beyond excited and proud,” Herrera said Wednesday while accompanying the middle school choir at the UMHB campus in Belton. “Recognition at this level is a huge honor.”
Both the fine arts director and the Patterson director pointed out that choirs in Killeen bring a far more diverse population to the state’s top stage than most.
The state honor choir designation requires two years’ worth of choir performance, meaning the accolade goes beyond a single year and speaks to a strong tradition.
“It takes a lot of vision and talent,” Herrera said in reference to Nicholas. “It takes a great work ethic because they work daily. He knows the sound he wants from them.”
In 1991, Ellison High School’s choir received the state honor designation under the direction of Richard Surface. In 1999, his wife Martha Surface, directed the Killeen High School choir to the high honor.
In 1992, Tommy Haygood, directing the Manor Middle School choir, earned the state honor.
The Patterson choirs are scheduled to perform their winter concert at 7:30 p.m. December 3 at the Ellison High School auditorium.
They will perform as guests during the Ellison winter concert at 7 p.m. December 5 at the Ellison auditorium.
The state honor choir from Patterson will also perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at First United Methodist Church in Killeen. They attend the state convention Feb. 13 and 14.
In addition to the Patterson boys’ choir, the state honor choirs at the middle school level come from Birdville, Leander and Amarillo. The high school honor choirs are from Canyon, Fort Bend, Angleton, Brownsville, Mesquite, San Marcos and Conroe.