Steamboat Springs High School choir earns ‘superior’ rating at CHSAA competition |

Steamboat Springs High School choir earns ‘superior’ rating at CHSAA competition

Joe Moylan

— The Steamboat Springs High School choir earned an overall rating of "excellent" Monday during a vocal competition at Moffat County High School in Craig.

Considering the majority of the students had never sung in choir before this year, director Wendy Dillon said she couldn't have been more pleased with the results.

"When you live in a sports town where skiing is king it's really hard to recruit kids to choir because a lot of them, even those who want to participate, have difficulty finding the time," Dillon said. "We worked really hard all year to prepare for this competition, and getting to this level really was an accomplishment."

The Northwestern Vocal Large Group Festival, a Colorado High School Activities Association event, featured high school choirs from Steamboat Springs, Craig, Rifle, Rangely, Grand Valley, Lake County and Glenwood Springs.

The competition is judged by music educators from throughout the state who rank each choir's performance on a five-point scale, with 1 being "superior" and 5 being "unprepared."

The competition encompasses two main components, including the performance of three prepared pieces followed by a "sight reading."

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Sight reading is the blind portion of the competition in which each choir receives a musical piece they have never seen before. They receive five minutes to learn it, without the assistance of their director, before performing the piece.

Although the Steamboat Springs High School choir received an overall rating of 2, or excellent, they received a rating of 1 for the sight reading portion of the competition.

"It was an awesome experience, and the kids really rose to the occasion," Dillon said.

The CHSAA event may be scored, but Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School Band Director John Bolton said it's not competitive in the sense that each choir is measuring themselves against other schools.

After the competition, choir directors receive notes from the judges that will help them choose literature next year to not only address weaknesses, but also highlight strengths, Bolton said.

Although choir is just like any other high school activity, where the focus is on education, Bolton said it's fun to have days when the primary focus is on the music.

"Yesterday I had a student who just had one of those crappy days, but once he got up there singing, I could see it all faded away," Bolton said. "There's something about music. It doesn't matter what's going on in your life, for just a few minutes the performance becomes the center of your universe."

Dillon echoed similar sentiments.

Among the Steamboat Springs High School choir's three prepared pieces was "In These Delightful Pleasant Groves," an a cappella number featuring a series of "accidentals."

An accidental represents a different style of tonality that is unpredictable, Dillon said.

"The kids always hate it when you first introduce them to music with accidentals because it is a harder style to learn, but it's always the one students remember," Dillon said. "It's part of the education of introducing students to music they would never seek out on their own, and I'm sure they'll remember how well they performed it for the rest of their lives."

Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or

Steamboat Springs High School Choir members

The Steamboat Springs High School choir participated Monday in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Northwestern Vocal Large Group Festival at Moffat County High School in Craig. The choir earned an overall rating of 2, or excellent, for their performance. The choir earned a rating of 1, or superior, for the sight reading portion of the competition.

The SSHS choir consists of:

• Wendy Dillon, director

• Sarah Brumley

• Abigail Burns

• Megan Garcia

• Ryan Graves

• Carly Hanley

• Kasey Houlihan

• Kathryn Jankoski

• Anna Olivia Jones

• Senceray Kelley

• Alexandra Kipfer-Lorange

• Sofia Lange

• Guerin Lewis

• Grace Mark

• Mariah Meeks

• Reagan Mertz

• Hanna Pagliaro

• Lauren Schneegas

• Heather Seams

• Elexia Seng

• Kelsey Spognardi

• Jennifer Wilber

• Hannah Winegarner

• Natalie Wirth

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