Honor choir hosted by WSC exceeds audience capacity


Kaitlyn Michaelson

Treble Honor Chior members Akara Hall, left, Addysen, middle and Oliver, right, sing in the alto part during sectional time.

Reagan Hudson, Staff Writer

WSC hosted two high school honor choirs, Mixed Choir and Treble Choir, in which hundreds of high school students auditioned, but only about 50 students were accepted, in Ley Theater, which went over the max capacity of around 250 audience members, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3.  

There were around 40 high schools around Nebraska and Iowa that were represented at the honor band performance. In 2018, the event had to be held in Rice Auditorium because there were around 400 participants.  

“Since Peterson and Ramsey theater have been under construction, we have made the choirs more select,” Director of Choral Activities at WSC Matthew Armstrong said. 

This year the performance was held in Ley Theatre and there was not an open seat in the entire venue. Audience members stood against all of the walls, and some even had to stand in the balcony which is usually just for WSC choir students. 

Despite the lack of space, hosting this honor choir for young singers is very important for a number of reasons, said Armstrong. One main reason is to inspire kids to keep singing.  

“Better yet, inspire kids to keep singing at Wayne State College,” Armstrong said.  

“I enjoy encouraging the students to continue music in college, especially at WSC,” WSC choir member Christopher Woerdemann said.  

This event brings prospective students and their teachers and families to campus, and has been for years.  

“Many of our current students were honor choir kids as high schoolers,” Armstrong said.  

Honor choirs are designed to provide a high-quality musical experience for some of the most talented singers in the region.  

“54 students that auditioned made the Nebraska All-State choir this year,” Armstrong said.  

Choosing the music for this event can be very complex, Armstrong said.  

“We try to pick music that is fun, but also challenges students,” Armstrong said.  

Armstrong incorporated music from different cultures, as seen in the Mixed Choir’s piece, “Kuimba Nafsi Yangu,” which is African.  

“I once had a teacher tell me that he estimated this was the best musical experience of the year for many students,” Armstrong said. “Seeing all of the talented kids come together to sing music that many of them can’t do in their choirs at home is very rewarding.” 

This event is put on for the high school singers, but it is also an opportunity for the current WSC choir members. This event is a service project for the WSC students. They lead, chaperone, sing along, organize t-shirts, answer questions, etc. Some of them also sing with high school students during the performance.  

“It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an army of dedicated WSC choir members to put on a successful honor choir,” Armstrong said.  

Both choirs came together and sang the final song, “In Dat’ Great Getting” Up Mornin’,” which featured WSC’s new faculty member, professor Matt Clegg, as the tenor soloist.  

“This will be a great way to introduce him to students and teachers in the region. He is amazing and we’re so blessed to have him at WSC,” Armstrong said.  

The Mixed Honor Choir was conducted by Armstrong and accompanied by Shelly Armstrong on the piano. The Treble Honor Choir was conducted by Lyn Bouma, a recently retired master teacher at Omaha Central High School and Stephen Bouma played accompaniment on piano.