Blue Earth Area celebrates music month

BLUE EARTH – March is “Music in Our Schools Month” at Blue Earth Area and choir director Paul Johnson’s singers are hitting all the notes.

Tonight is a large group competition in Granada. Johnson plans to take his big choir to compete for ratings, but the highlight comes later when the honor choir performs with a guest director.

Usually the guest is a college choir director, but it’s a special honoree this year.

“They decided to give Mike Ellingsen that honor,” Johnson said of his predecessor, who taught at Blue Earth Area for decades.

On Tuesday, the Blue Earth Area middle school choir/orchestra performs at 6 p.m. while the high school choirs perform at 7:30 p.m., all in the performing arts center.

“[The event] rounds out Music in Our Schools month,” Johnson said. “It’ll be a long night, but it’ll be fun. That’ll be our chance to show what we’re doing to the community.”

Earlier this month, three of Johnson’s students tried out for All-State Choir. Emily Hynes, a junior, and Rowan Hacken, a sophomore, tried out as sopranos; Signe Olson, a sophomore, tried out as an alto.

The girls were tested on sight-reading, range and quality, tonal recall and solo performance.

“Emily has a very warm and budding operatic tone. Her vibrato is becoming consistent,” Johnson said.

“Rowan has a very good ear. She tends to find her notes and sight read with much success,” he said.

“Signe’s got very good rhythm. She has a peaceful tone to her singing, especially on the solo she’s performing,” Johnson said.

If selected, the students would perform with the All-State Choir through the next school year.

“They could take all three, could take none. It’s a pretty selective process,” Johnson said.

The three girls aren’t the only ones who have competed this month. Johnson took around 60 students to Minnesota State-Mankato on March 14 for a choir and orchestra competition. The students competed in solo, duet and ensemble contests and were rated by judges from MSU.

“[It] was a very successful day for Blue Earth Area music,” Johnson said. “We had 25 of 28 entries attend the Region 2A Sub-Section 6 music contest at MSU-Mankato. The men’s ensemble called Green Giant a capella received a superior rating. We had 14 vocal solo entries with nine of those 14 receiving a superior rating and six receiving an excellent rating.

“Of those vocal solo entries, we had one student receive the ‘Best in Site’ award. This is given to the best performance a single judge witnessed all day. The student was 10th-grade baritone Joe Yates.

“We had six vocal duet entries, with four of the six receiving a superior rating. A vocal quintet of women received an excellent rating.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the students displayed,” Johnson said.

As if he doesn’t have enough to do, Johnson is already looking ahead to next month.

The Blue Earth Area Concert Choir has been asked to perform a solo set as part of the Wartburg College Choir’s tour program April 19 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Earth.

“Kind of a big thing coming up,” he said.