Seymour High School sophomore selected for all-state choir


Auditioning for the Indiana Music Education Association All-State Honor Choir for the first time, Amanda Massengale said she didn’t experience many nerves.

On the drive to East Central High School with her father, the Seymour High School sophomore practiced the song that all of the students would be singing, “Weep Not for Him” by Tesfa Yohannes Wondemagegnehu.

She said the audition, which also included sight-reading, went really quick, and she was told the people who made the choir would be informed the following day.

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The morning of Sept. 21, her sister, Anna Massengale, was in the Seymour High School choir room when Kyle Karum, director of choral music, received emails letting him know Amanda made the choir.

Anna then went to get her sister to share the good news.

“I was so sure I didn’t make it. I was positive I didn’t make it,” Amanda said. “I was just so shocked when (Karum) told me because I had messed up on a lot of parts because their recording was really fast, and the recording I was listening to was a lot slower. I was breathing in parts I shouldn’t have, and I was going slower, and I was just so sure I didn’t make it.”

When she realized she did make it, it meant a lot.

“It was probably one of the happiest moments in my life. I was so excited,” she said with a big smile. “Anna was hugging me. I was shaking. I was so happy.”

Karum said Amanda is the first Seymour student to make the choir in five years.

East Central was one of 16 sites throughout the state hosting auditions, and the auditions typically draw around 500 students, said Anissa Bradley, All-State Honor Choir chairwoman for the Indiana Choral Directors Association.

In January, the choir, consisting of 250 students, will perform “Weep Not for Him” and several other pieces during the IMEA Professional Development Conference at Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne.

Amanda and the students from around the Hoosier State will get a chance to work with Wondemagegnehu, who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Every year, they bring in a guest clinician to work with the kids, someone who is absolutely world class. He is a world-class composer and conductor,” Karum said.

“It’s great to step outside of Seymour High School and to be under a different conductor and just hear all of these kids from other schools and hear what they are doing,” he said. “It’s a really positive environment. They make this music that is just astounding. They make it a very high level, and it’s really, really tough stuff.”

Amanda will have four rehearsals with students from District 8B before going to the conference. She has to go to at least three of them, and Karum has to attend at least one. Then at the conference, she will spend a few days rehearsing with the entire group.

“I’m very honored,” Amanda said of the opportunity. “I’m really excited just to look at the music. I haven’t been this excited in my life.”

This is her second year of high school choir. She is one of 38 girls in Sirenas and is a second soprano.

For the audition Sept. 20, she sang in front of a song judge and a sight-reading judge.

She sang the first 36 measures of the 51-measure “Weep Not for Him.” While she had that piece ahead of time, she did not receive the sight-reading piece until the day of the audition.

Sight-reading involves reading and performing a piece of music or a song in music notation that the performer has not seen before.

“I had to do a rhythmic where I had to count the rhythm, and then I did a minor and a major on vocals for sight-reading,” Amanda said.

The students were assessed on their skill set and given a score. The highest-scoring sopranos, altos, tenors and bass were chosen for the All-State Honor Choir.

At East Central, Karum said Amanda was one of two sopranos selected.

Now that she has earned the honor, Karum wants more of his students to have a shot at it.

“Amanda has really inspired me to really promote this more,” he said. “I think next year, what we’ll do is we’ll take a bus of kids and we’ll really prepare people, and we’ll go up there and we’ll just do our thing and try to get as many people from Seymour in the all-state choir. That will be really cool.”

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