Choir to perform annual cluster concerts Nov. 29 – Dec. 1


Peyton Kuschmeider

The choir sings the school alma mater at a pep rally on Oct. 21. The alma mater was written by students in the 2002-2003 school year, and has been performed at football games and pep rallies since.

The choir will perform its annual cluster concerts Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 in the auditorium at 7 p.m. The concerts will incorporate performances by all choirs, feeder middle schools and feeder elementary schools.

“The cluster concert is three nights, each night for a different middle school and their respective feeder [elementary] schools,” choir president Nick Ballas said. “Not only do we have songs we’re performing for the audience, there are songs that we’re singing with the middle schoolers and elementary schoolers. In a way, it integrates the high school experience to give them a feel of what’s seen in high school.” 

Starting in early November, a unique circumstance required both choir directors to miss class for approximately three weeks. They returned Monday, Nov. 28. The choir has still been rehearsing as normal for their upcoming performances with the help of student directors and other teachers, but the directors’ absence presented challenges. 

“When it comes down to it, the director decides how music should be stylized and what parts we need to focus on,” Ballas said. “Without that guidance, our songs can have weak points and it can be difficult to blend as a group. It will likely be a finished product that we aren’t satisfied with because of forces out of our control.”

In 1999, the choir program was started by the former director, Rachel Forester, who retired in 2019. Over the absence of the current directors, administration asked her to come back and help out the choir with their music and performances.  

“I still feel a part of the program because I started the program,” Forester said. “But, I’ve handed that baton off to Mr. Carr and Mr. Ratliff, and it’s great coming back seeing that the program is alive and well.”

Some choir groups have had the guidance of student directors to assist them in the directors’ absence as well. The varsity acapella choir was led by senior John Michael Manon.

“The biggest thing was just not knowing how we were getting things done,” Manon said. “At the very beginning, [we all thought] it was going to be a day or a week [without the directors].  I’m proudest of everyone [understanding] that we don’t know everything, but we still have a performance. We have performances very soon, so we have to get ready now.”

Manon also said it doesn’t matter to him how they perform, he is just happy to be there with the choir and feeder schools.

“Everyone is just together and happy to be there,” Manon said, “We have the elementary and middle schoolers, so it’s more that we’re happy to share [the moment] and glad, however it is performed, to have this music ready; we’re going to enjoy [it] whatever [happens].”

The choir is also working to prepare for its upcoming TMEA performance in February. The choir was selected as a 6A choir to perform at the TMEA annual convention, where the best members of different fine arts programs will perform over the course of a few days.

“It is really an honor to be selected for it,” Ballas said. “Now that we have been selected for it, it is important that we present our best contribution to Texas music that we can.”

Through the many challenges presented, the choir has still endured it all and is ready to perform at cluster concerts this week.

“I’ve just been so happy,” Manon said. “Even though there’s [been] a lot of speculation that [we] don’t know what’s going on, everyone [had the ability] to be able to [accept] all of the pressure we have on us. We can either go into chaos or [know] no matter who is in front of us and no matter what the circumstances are, we always have another performance to go to or another thing to work on. ”