By William for www.mcpherson-county-ks.com

For the third time in USD 418 history a student singer from McPherson, Kaliah Tice, represented the school district and community at the recent Nationals in Orlando, Florida. Previous attendees from McPherson were Jacob Hemmingway and Ben Hopkins as band members as Tice was the first to go for choir.

In the fall of 2018, Tice auditioned for the KMEA All-State Choir and was selected. Once the All-State performance was over, Tice expressed an interest in auditioning for Nationals which she had to be in the top 7% of the 7,000-plus that auditioned for the all-state choir in order to even audition for Nationals.

When you consider the most recent KSHSAA (Kansas State High School Activities Association) Journal confirmed that in Kansas High Schools there are over 17,000 students singing, what Tice had to do next was indeed an accomplishment as she was required to submit a taped acapella recording of a very difficult 17th Century Art Song (the same requirement for all National auditionees) and that audition along with her State Qualifications were the only way she would be measured against the top high school vocalists in the country.

When you consider the National Honor Choir only selects 30 singers per voice part for the entire ensemble, it meant that if Tice qualified, she would be one of only 240 singers invited.

After the joy of finding out she qualified, Tice made the journey to Orlando where she found herself in prestigious company as nearly every student she spoke to had come from a magnet school or a specialized school for the performing arts, and many of them took daily vocal lessons.

Tice noted that rehearsals were designed to create a professional atmosphere and students were active, engaged, and creating with the conductor by offering their own musical suggestions and interpretations.

While Tice is already planning to attend Wichita State University after she graduates in the spring of 2020, she did take time to visit with recruiters and admissions counselors for many of the nation’s top music conservatories, schools which Tice found to be so foreign to anything she had experienced and so overwhelming specialized.

Finally, on her final day, Tice had the opportunity to meet with the other 17 students representing schools in Kansas and noted that only one other student came from a more rural area of the state like Tice.

Tice was heard mentioning to others that during one of her last rehearsals, she stopped singing for a second and while looking around finally had the ‘light go on’ that made her realize just how unique the experience was and how incredibly talented everyone around her was plus the fact that she was doing something no other McPherson high school singer had done. She also took note that she would never get to do it again.

In the choir’s performance that final evening, the music included literature composed by the world’s top composers and had content that included topics near and dear to her heart like mental health and depression. Tice reflected that one piece featured testimonials from high school students that survived near suicide attempts.

The final wow of the evening as Tice referenced it, was a piece written by a high school student from the Kansas City area who had won a national composition competition with the reward being the National Honor Choir performing his piece, a piece which Tice claimed to be one of her favorites because of the student that wrote it and what he wrote about.

Wrapping up the experience, Tice made mention that the choir was given two standing ovations with one being for the performance of the composition by the student from Kansas City and the other for the excellence that the students in the choir performed with.

One final thought came from those who may have a chance to look at the program detailing the National Honor Choir and that final performance and seeing that Tice’s name was next to her voice part and concluded with the note she was from McPherson, Kansas – which means Tice was not only there representing USD 418, but the entire community as well.

(NOTE – information and picture for this posting came from a post on the USD 418 website (www.mcpherson.com))

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