For New England music teacher Conway Heupel it was a great evening.
Not just for himself, but for the students and parents who filled the stands to capacity for the “Spring Concert” at the new England gymnasium.
As the school year comes to a close, he was able to show off the skills of his students which drew praise and awards in the recent district and state competitions.
“At the District, our large group band for the first time ever received a two-star rating which is the highest you can get,” Heupel explained. “We were one of four bands to earn that honor.”
He was also proud of some the individuals who performed in the May 5 concert in the school gymnasium.
“Eve Stegner, the French Horn soloist, got a star at state. The flute trio got a star at Districts got a 1 at state. We had an alto sax horn quartet that won at Districts. We had a percussion duet at Districts that earned a 1. A timpani solo performed by Leah Ehlis earned a 1, and Alarm, a small percussion ensemble which performed (in the concert) also earned a 1 at Districts,” he said.
“If you earn a 1 at the Districts, you do not go on to the state level,” the music teacher explained. “A 1, 2 or 3 doesn’t earn that. If you earn a star at districts, you go onto the state level.”
The choir went well at the district level, he added. “We had eight soloists who performed – Cherokee Warnecke and Sebella Sorenson earned stars at districts. We had Kayla Ehlis earned a 1 at districts, Leah Ehlis earned a 1 at districts and Emily Dinius earned a 2 rating at districts. Stetson Urlacher earned a 1 at districts, while Aspen Barnett earned a 1.
“Kayla and Leah (Ehlis) earned a star at districts with a vocal duet and a 1 at state,” Huepel added.
Several of the students combined for a vocal ensemble, he said. “We had ‘The Hands that First Held Mary’s Child” ensemble with Sebella Sorenson, Emily Dinius, Kayla Ehlis, Leah Ehlis, Brenna Wert and Shelley Kathrein earned a star at districts and a star at state.
The ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ mixed vocal ensemble (with 12 students) had Sorenson, Warnecke, Lindsay Koch, Barnett, Dinius, Kayla Ehlis, Leah Ehlis, Wert, Waylon Kathrein, Urlacher, Will Schmidt and Wyatt Dorner performing together, according to the teacher. “They earned a star at districts and a star at state.”
The large group choir also earned two star ratings, Heupel said. “We were one of four choirs to earn that honor.”
For Heupel, it has been a “fantastic year.”
“In total, we earned 18 stars on the year. By far, it’s been our best year all the way around,” he added.
In the scoring, a star qualifies for the next level. “A star is the best you can do. Then there is the 1 rating, the 2 rating and the 3 rating. The star is a superior performance. The 1 is an excellent performance. A 2 rating would be considered a good performance, while a 3 rating would be an average performance,” Heupel added.
Those performers who earn a star also qualify to be considered for the competition’s outstanding performance, he explained. “The judge can only hand out one “OP” in each room out of the whole entire day.”
“I don’t envy those judges,” he added, with a smile.