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Aerie: From RWHS to St. John's University to Orchestra Hall

Emma Cory and Ashley Knowlton, seniors at Red Wing High School, were chosen to participate in the 2016-2017 All-State Choir. Scott Perau (center) is the choir director. (submitted photo)

Editor's note: Aerie is produced by and for Red Wing High School students. The content is the sole responsibility of the students.

The Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Choir consists of a select group of students from across the state. These students submit an audition tape and are selected from a sea of applicants. After careful consideration, only a small fraction are accepted.

Emma Cory and Ashley Knowlton, seniors at Red Wing High School, were chosen to participate in the 2016-2017 All-State Choir.

Selection to any MMEA All-State Ensemble, whether it be band, choir, jazz band or orchestra, is the highest award a Minnesota music student can achieve.

Cory and Knowlton attended a weeklong summer All-State Choir camp at St. John's University in August of 2016. The program consists of three choirs: Mixed Choir, Women's Chorus, and Men's Chorus. Students don't audition for one choir over another; all three are of equal honor to be accepted into.

Cory and Knowlton created music with other talented students in the mixed choir and learned from their conductor, Jing Ling-Tam, the choir conductor at the University of Texas at Arlington. After the first day of the camp, her students affectionately called her Auntie Jing. During the week, students started rehearsals at 8 a.m. and finished around 9 p.m.

"We met students from all walks of life who love your craft just as much as you do," Cory said.

Their day started off with warm-ups and then moved into sectionals, where each voice part worked separately. Then, they jumped into a whole choir run-through.

With six songs, they were very busy rehearsing. Four of the songs were in a foreign language. Ling-Tan had arranged the other two. One of their songs had been arranged specifically for the MMEA All-State Choir and their performance was the song's premiere.

The August camp was not the end of Cory and Knowlton's career in the All-State Choir. During the weekend of Feb. 17, they participated in a reunion concert in Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall.

"This experience was so surreal, both the summer camp and being onstage at Orchestra Hall, not to mention performing with Minnesota's best high school singers." Knowlton said. "With every note that we sang as a choir, I got goosebumps. It was that good."

Both Knowlton and Cory said felt they learned so much from this experience and are extremely grateful to have been selected to learn and perform with such a prestigious group.