“Fall” into Harmony: State High Choirs Perform Autumn Song Concert


Junior Jackson Dillard, the vice president of State High Choirs and a member of Master Singers, Chamber Singers, and Only Men Allowed, performs “Sound an Alarm” by Friedrich Handel at the Autumn Song concert. When asked why he likes to sing, Dillard responded, “Simple. I love the community.”

Lena Clark, Staff Writer

On Monday, November 6th, the North Auditorium filled with music, old and new, when State High’s Master Singers, Cecilian Singers, Chamber Singers, Only Men Allowed, and Treblemakers gathered for their annual Autumn Song concert. Each group performed several selections from their fall lineup, such as Cecilian Singers’ rendition of the Appalachian classic “Shenandoah”, and Master Singers’ version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Only Men Allowed, a group of upperclassmen tenors and basses, performed several rowdy, entertaining numbers, including Michael Head’s “When I Think Upon the Maidens” and the popular Italian classic “O Sole Mio.” Treblemakers and Chamber Singers, two auditioned groups of only sixteen singers each, presented selections from their upcoming Christmas-season programs, and Master Singers presented two movements from last month’s performance of Maurice Durufle’s “Requiem,” a collaborative effort with Penn State’s Concert Choir.

Choral music has been an integral part of State High’s music program for many years, and this year’s groups have a strong legacy to uphold. In the past, Master Singers has performed at Carnegie Hall, in addition to many collaborative efforts with Penn State’s University and Concert Choirs. Last year, Chamber Singers appeared at the Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association All-State Choir Festival. In May, Cecilian Singers, Only Men Allowed, and Master Singers took home silver and gold medals at the World-Star Music Adjudication Festival in Boston, Massachusetts, where they competed against groups from all over the United States and Canada. Both Treblemakers and Chamber Singers have been invited to perform at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg on December 10th.

But this year’s singers are not lacking in ambition. Senior Lily Najjar, a two-year member of Master Singers, said, “I feel like we work really hard and we push ourselves, which totally pays off. There are always things to improve, but with time and effort we can make that happen.” Senior Sam Schneider, the president of State High Choirs and a member of both Master Singers and Only Men Allowed, echoed her sentiments when he said, “There are certain moments where the ensemble will hold out a chord and it’s so beautiful that it makes me want to cry. To be a part of creating that sound is amazing, and it’s moments like that when I remember why I keep singing.”

On December 16th, all choirs will present their annual Winter Pops Concert. Master Singers will perform “Carmina Burana” with the Altoona Symphony and other local choirs in April, and in May will join Cecilian Singers and Only Men Allowed to travel to Williamsburg, Virginia, for another World-Star Music Adjudication Festival. This summer, Master Singers will take an eleven-day tour of Switzerland and Italy performing classic American repertoire, and will have the opportunity to perform in the world-renowned St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Any singer will tell you that performing choral music is hard work. State High Choral Director Erik Clayton holds his students to high standards, concert season is long and tedious, and the selected repertoire is often complicated and challenging. So why do they come back, year after year?

Najjar said, “Because I get to come to school and be a part of an incredibly talented group of students who make art every day.”