The All-State Experience
For every activities department on a college campus, there’s a big event that their best students prepare for–tournaments for the sports teams, contests for Rodeo and Theatre etc. For the Choir there is the All-State convention, a biannual convention where the best and most passionate musical students and leaders gather for the sharpening of their craft.
“Basically, it’s an event open to all two-year colleges and divided into regions.” said Sandra Bauer, Panola Choir Director. “Each region auditions, and then students are selected from each to perform.” The All-State convention lasts from Wednesday of the chosen week until that Saturday with the choir giving a concert on the final day. The Choir itself is composed of 120 students, all practicing for 10 hours a day, two days out of the convention in order to prepare for the Saturday concert.
“It makes it difficult to enjoy the convention itself…you’re always in a rush.” said Cassie Blair, one of the two singers that represented for Panola, alongside Shawn Simonson. “But it’s rewarding to meet and be with so many other students who are as passionate about music as you are.” Indeed, not only are there many other music enthusiasts, but there are also many musical artifacts on display, as well as many more for sale alongside various kinds of sheet music. One can even watch a violin be made, first-hand.
As for the music sung at the event, all of it is advanced collegiate compositions, the likes of which can even challenge musical veterans. They’re also a capella songs, which means that the choir sings without any accompaniment to help them remember notes and keep rhythm. “It’s challenging, but they choose some of the best directors, and they’re often fun and knowledgeable.” said Cassie. “They connect with and communicate with us so well that it’s a privilege just to be there and learn from them.”
Put simply, All-State is primarily an honorary affair, but the experience and connections made alongside the other musicians and experts are invaluable. Although the event itself can be difficult, it’s well-worth the trip for anyone with a passion for music. For singers, composers, and pretty much anyone interested in the art of melody and song, there’s no better event than All-State.