Choirs to compete in UIL April 12-13


Krista Fleming

Freshman Carys Turner warms up during a practice for the Belle Chanson Treble Choir on April 3. Belle is an intermediate level all-female choir and members must audition to join.

All choirs will compete in the annual UIL competition at Denton Ryan High School April 12-13. The program has had at least one choir get sweepstakes, or all ones, every year since 2001.

“The students have been doing really well so far,” head director Alexander Carr said. “They’ve been eager to learn the music, and their attitudes toward the songs are great. In a performance-based class, performing is the most important part. Any chance that the students have had to perform, they’ve jumped at.” 

The Hawkapella mixed choir performed at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention in San Antonio on Feb. 9, and will compete with two of those same songs, “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel” and “Geistliches Lied,” at UIL. The mixed choir will also compete as two separate choirs, treble and tenor-base, with three new songs each. The choir typically starts preparing UIL music when the new semester starts in January, but was unable to start practicing the songs until mid-February due to the TMEA performance. 

“It’s been a little challenging going into UIL with so little time, but I know we’ll pull through,” senior student director of hawkapella John Michael Mannon said. “It’s definitely been a way more vigorous process because we only have a month to learn the music and get it to a certain standard.” 

Each UIL competition the current seniors have attended has been different, with one cancellation, one virtual experience, one normal UIL and now TMEA. One of the few constants has been Carr’s directing, and this will be the first year every student in the program has only had Carr as a head director, as he took the job in 2019.  

“The program has done a full turnover now,” assistant director Nathan Ratliff said. “Everybody that we have knows [Carr’s] expectations and understands his level of demand. That makes it special because it’s a different sound than we had four years ago, because a new director will shape the choir the way he sees it.” 

Every choir will compete with three songs and will have to sight-read. This will be the first time the choirs besides Hawkapella perform in front of an evaluative audience all year.

“Though [Hawkapella] has relaxed a little after TMEA, that was only one part of our program,” Carr said. “Everybody else is still a little nervous, so they’re still singing the songs with a lot of energy going into UIL.” 

Choir will have one more performance this year — their spring show, “Party in the U.S.A.,” in mid-May. Mannon said he hopes going into the end of the year that the choir members grow more confident in themselves and will sing each song proudly.

“We’ve had these moments where we’re singing and it just sounds so good,” Mannon said. “Everybody always beats themselves up over how it sounds, but when we move past that and sound our best, we realize as a choir that we can make every moment just as great.”