Students represent Manchester Essex at All-State Concert

By Maura McCormick:

Junior Sara Rhuda and senior Tucker Evans took part in the All-State concert at Symphony Hall on Mar. 21.

The performance required two days of preparation. Rhuda and Evans left school early Thursday morning and practiced all day at the World Trade Center in Boston on Thursday and Friday.

According to Rhuda, the practices took all day with a few short breaks.

“The rehearsal schedule was strenuous, but our director was very understanding and gave us 20-minute breaks when he felt we needed them,” she said.

The director of the concert this year was Rollo Dilworth, a professor of choral music education and chair of the Department of Music Education and Therapy at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia. 150 of his compositions and arrangements have been published, as well as various books about choral singing.

“He is basically famous in the choral world,” Rhuda said.

Evans, who has now attended three All-States concerts, said Dilworth was his favorite conductor.

Choral director Donna O’Neill was also impressed with the director.

“Hearing high school students perform at that level under the leadership of such phenomenal talent is tremendously gratifying. I am so happy that some of our students get that opportunity,” O’Neill said.

The chorus performed five different pieces, one of which was composed by Dilworth himself.

“The repertoire was unbelievably challenging and extraordinarily well-done,” O’Neill said.

Rhuda said the music was more complex than the music she is used to in chorus class.

“There were a lot of weird rhythms and phrases that were extremely difficult and required intense focus and practice,” Rhuda said.

Evans said the more challenging music forces the group to work harder but also makes the experience more fun.

Rhuda and Evans also brought warm-ups and techniques they learned at All-States back to the high school chorus, according to O’Neill.

Rhuda said her favorite part of the experience was meeting new people with similar interests.

“Everyone at All States was extremely kind, and I felt so lucky to be able to bond with them over the fantastic music we were singing,” she said.

Upcoming choral and band events at the high school include the Spring Concert on April 16 and A Cappella Night April 27.

O’Neill stressed that she hopes to see a lot of students going out to support the chorus and Soundwaves.