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Sing it! Choir solo ensembles earn superior ratings

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Detroit Lakes High School vocal students did extremely well in the recent Minnesota State High School League solo ensemble and large group choir competitions for Region 8AA North.

DLHS had 60 entries in the solo ensemble competition, held on April 16 in Bemidji. Of those 60 entries, 52 earned superior entries, and seven more were rated as excellent, said DLHS vocal director Kathryn Larson.

"Many entries (from Detroit Lakes) scored a perfect 40," said Larson, noting that a perfect score is "a rare thing" in regional competition.

"I was in shock," she added. "We always have one or two (perfect scores), but I was surprised to see that many."

The Laker Singers, DLHS Concert Choir and Women's Varsity Choir also performed extremely well in the large group choir competition, held April 22 at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, as each of them earned superior ratings (a score of 35 points or higher from at least 2 out of 3 judges). Groups from Bemidji and Fergus Falls also competed at the event.

In fact, the Laker Singers earned a perfect score from all three judges, for a total of 40 points. The Concert Choir received 37 total points, and the Varsity Women's Choir received 38 points.

Larson also noted that, aside from the Laker Singers, all DL choirs are non-auditioned groups -- unlike Fergus Falls and Bemidji, which hold auditions for all of their choirs.

"Anyone who has a love of singing can join," Larson said.

"Our kids work really hard," she added. "I'm immensely proud of the fact that they sing at the same level as the other schools in the region."

Choirs, solos and ensembles are all rated on the same performance factors, Larson noted: Tone quality, intonation, rhythm, balance/blend, technique, interpretation and musicianship, diction, and other factors including appearance, choice of songs, mannerisms, poise, facial expressions and posture.

Song selection for large group competition is based on a predetermined list, grouped into three different categories according to difficulty.

Song selections for solo and ensemble competition are somewhat more varied, but as in large group competition, more points are awarded to songs with greater difficulty, Larson said.

"You can't just sing whatever you want," she added.

Though Category 1 songs are rated higher, Larson said, she doesn't always choose songs from that group: For instance, because the women's varsity choir is made up of younger students, she chose songs from category 2 this year.

Song selection did not have a negative effect on their score, as two of the three judges gave them a 38, and the third awarded them a score of 37.

The Concert Choir was awarded 37 points from two judges, and 38 points from the third.

"It was an immensely successful day," Larson said, noting that she was pleased to see the DL students recognized for their "commitment to excellence."

Besides her students, Larson also wanted to recognize the three piano accompanists who worked with them for the competitions: Paul Heisler, Susan Champa and Karen Bimberg.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454