Chamber Choir gave her goose bumps; SG musicians dominate music awards


EPPS/SGH Women’s Ensemble sings “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” at sub-section. In front from left are Emily Myrah, Olivia Gleason, Rachel Krenzke, Rhiannon Skauge, Gina Lund and Kelsey Bratland. In middle row are Jadyn Olerud, Alyssa Johnson, Kyleigh Doering and Hannah Dodson. In back are Miah Tate, Harlee Gavin, Jacine Johanningmeier, Kendra Waldenberger and Kailee Bjerke.

EPPS/SGH Percussion group received a score of 39 (out of a possible 40) with a rendition of “Winding River.” From left are Amelia Solum, Wyatt Murphy, Vivian Kampschroer, Kai Bjerke, Jeremiah Hutchins and Brody Christiansen.

EPPS/SGH Sophomore Elena Myrah performed six times at sub-section, including this flute solo of “Andalouse,” which received a nearly-perfect score of 39.

EPPS/SGH Kai Bjerke had the stage to himself for a snare drum solo that received the highest (superior) rating.
By : 
Stephen Lee Epps

“I’ve been here two hours, and this is the first time I felt goose bumps,” said judge Susan Braun after hearing the Spring Grove Chamber Choir sing “Homeward Bound.” 

The choir received a score of 39 out of 40 and merited one of the coveted “Best in Site” awards at the Sub-section 1A solo/ensemble contest at Rushford on Thursday, April 19.

‘Best in site’

After more than four and a half hours of musical presentations, spread out among 10 different sites (rooms), each of the 10 judges selects the best performance they heard that evening in their room - the “Best in Site” (BIS) award. 

There were 11 “Best in Site” honors, and Spring Grove won five. That was more than twice as many as any other of the competing schools in a field of seven – Spring Grove, Caledonia, Fillmore Central, Mabel-Canton, Chatfield, Rushford-Peterson and Houston.

Singing in Italian and German, senior Vivian Kampschroer received two individual “Best in Site” honors – for a soprano solo “Che fiero costume” and with a mezzo-soprano solo “Nur Wer Die Sehnsucht Kennt.”

Senior Austin Patterson and sophomore Amelia Solum were also “Best in Site” honorees. Patterson won with a tuba solo performance of “Honor and Arms” while Solum soared on the flute with “Andalouse.”

Two judges had additional special praise for exceptional mezzo-soprano solos by both Abby Towne and Jacine Johanningmeier.

All superior, excellent

Each performance is graded on eight factors, and based on a total score, receives one of four ratings – superior (35-40 points), excellent (28-34), Good (22-27) or fair (21 or below).

Amazingly, with 61 total entries, every Spring Grove rating was either superior or excellent. Out of 29 vocal (choir) entries, there were 21 superior and 8 excellent ratings. Out of 32 Spring Grove instrumental (band) entries, 22 earned superior ratings along with 10 excellent scores. 

Nearly perfect

There were nine 39 scores (out of 40) - five vocal and four instrumental, including clarinet solos by Ashton Towne and Olivia Mendez as well as a flute solo by Elena Myrah and by the percussion ensemble, consisting of Kampschroer, Solum, Kai Bjerke, Wyatt Murphy, Jeremiah Hutchins and Brody Christiansen.

In vocal presentations, Kampschroer earned 39s with each of her solos as did Abby Towne with her solo “Danny Boy,” Olivia Mendez with solo “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” and the Chamber Choir.

More than once 

There were at least 54 student musicians from Spring Grove, many performing both vocal and instrumental renditions. Many also performed several times during the four and half hours of music.

A single student may enter six events, three vocal and three instrumental, but the total can exceed that if the student is also a member of the Chamber Choir, Jazz Band or jazz combo. 

Appearing seven times were junior Rhiannon Skauge and freshmen Olivia Mendez, each with five superiors. Sophomore Carter Bratland was prepared for a seventh, but one quartet member was absent with illness.

Six performances came from Bratland, Kampschroer, Solum and sophomores Elena Myrah and Wyatt Murphy. Several other artists performed as many as five times. 

Vocal renditions featured three languages with six selections in Italian and three sung in German in addition to English.

The adults

It was a staggering achievement for these high school students (grades 9 through 12) and their instructors. Bethany Engen, a former “Best in Site” honoree during her high school days at Spring Grove, is in her second year as choir director at Spring Grove. It was her eighth group to perform at this event, including six years teaching at Rushford-Peterson.

Willy Leafblad is in his third year as band director at Spring Grove. 

It could not happen without accompanists, who are often rushing from room to room to keep up with the schedule that has performances every 10 minutes. Engen was at the piano for 22 events while Rachel Udstuen accompanied 17 presentations.

Jean Ellingson is the veteran with her fourth year at sub-section, this time accompanying 14 performances.

One accompanist expressed the exhilaration of the connection - maybe only with brief eye contact - between accompanist and a young artist at the conclusion of a performance.

Much appreciation goes to Luther College instructor, Rachel Storlie, who helped prepare several vocal students. Dr. David Judisch, professor emeritus at Luther, has worked with Kampschroer vocals.