Five Seymour choral students performing with All-State Honor Choir


Amanda Massengale was the sole Seymour singer chosen for the Indiana Music Education Association All-State Honor Choir in the 2018-19 school year.

Kyle Karum, director of choral music at Seymour High School, said she was the first Seymour student to make the choir in five years.

In 2019-20, Karum wanted more students to audition and wound up with 12.

In the fall, they traveled to East Central High School to go through the audition process. Soon after, Karum learned five students were chosen for the choir: Massengale, her older sister, Anna Massengale, Levi Croquart, Carly Kaiser and Liza Stuckwisch.

Today, they will practice with students from around the state to prepare for a performance tonight at Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne. There were 250 students chosen to attend the IMEA Professional Development Conference and perform with the choir.

“Last year was really lonely because everybody had their own groups, and also, their fellow altos and sopranos were with them, and I was like, ‘It would be really cool if I had that,’” said Amanda, a junior. “I’m so glad I have that this year so that I can reach out to other people but from my group.”

Anna said it was a good experience watching her sister perform last year, and earning the honor this year means a lot because it’s her senior year.

“I never really thought I would be here because I joined choir just last year, and so when my sister was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this honor choir,’ I’m like, ‘Good luck with that. I’m not doing that,’” Anna said. “But then I saw what fun she had, I saw the experience and then she’s like, ‘I was kind of alone,’ so I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll go with you this year,’ so I joined choir for her sake.”

Karum said Amanda’s experience motivated him to recruit more students to audition.

“After seeing her experience and how much fun she had, how much she learned and grew as a musician, I said, ‘This is something we need to prioritize and say we need more than just one. We need to audition several,’” he said.

East Central was one of 16 sites hosting auditions. Overall, the sites drew around 600 students.

The audition consisted of learning the song “Awake the Harp” by Franz Joseph Haydn and doing sight-reading, which involves reading and performing a piece of music or a song in music notation that the performer has not seen before.

“The first excerpt we had to sight-read was rhythmic, so we don’t sing anything. It’s just rhythm,” Amanda said, adding that the other two involved singing. “Last year, they gave you as much time as you wanted to look at it without singing or doing anything. This year, we had 30 seconds.”

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.

Croquart, a junior, said the audition process was nerve-racking.

“But then again, you’ll miss every opportunity you don’t put effort toward, so I went in and did my best,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of the choir because it allows me to be a part of something bigger than myself, and music is bigger than all of us. It’s the real kind of magic.”

Kaiser, a freshman, said it was a little stressful at the beginning because she had never auditioned at an off-site facility before.

“Seeing all of the students there to try out intimidated me and made me a little nervous. I then remembered all the hard work I had put into practice, got my confidence back and I was ready to go,” she said.

She wanted to be a part of the choir because singing has been one of her longtime passions.

“I feel you need to do things that will make you happy, and All-State Honor Choir is one of those things,” Kaiser said. “Just having the opportunity to be a part of such a talented group of people is such a blessing.”

Finding out they were chosen was special for Croquart and Kaiser.

“My first reaction was doubt because there were many talented people at the audition site, let alone across the whole state. To represent SHS choirs is a big deal because it’s not only me. It’s 60 other people and not to mention Mr. Karum and Karla (Shutters). It’s an honor,” Croquart said.

“I was so excited when I heard the awesome news that I had been selected. As a freshman in high school, having this opportunity is just unbelievable,” Kaiser said. “I was very shocked, as well. I remember finding out during one of my classes and could not stop smiling the rest of the day. It is such an honor to be a part of representing our whole choral program at this event.”

Both are ready to join the other Hoosier choral students.

“One thing I’m looking forward to is the chance to meet new people, and you’re meeting those people because you have the love for the same thing, which is music. It connects us all. Having that connection only makes the choir better,” Croquart said.

“It’s always fun to attend with my Seymour friends, meet new friends and have a chance to perform under a new director,” Kaiser said. “Plus, the opportunity to perform at the beautiful and magnificent Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne is so amazing. I look forward to performing with such a talented group and the overall experience.”

Karum is excited, too.

“To see where they’ve all progressed, even just this year and ever since they entered the program, has been really cool,” he said. “These are five excellent musicians, some of the top musicians in the school, and we’re proud of them, and I’m really excited to see them on Saturday night.”

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