Stagg’s All State choir set to perform in Peoria
By Ginger Brashinger Correspondent January 23, 2014 12:34PM
From left to right: Cameryn Wysocki, Anna Swiech, Tony Hansen, Sam Kearns, Alex Vallera, Evan Gallermo, and Skyler Mackovitch. | Supplied photo
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:23AM
District 230’s Stagg High School All State choir members set a school record even before leaving Wednesday for the annual Illinois Music Education Conference in Peoria.
“This is the largest number of students we’ve had (at the IMEC) in the history of our school,” Stagg High School choir director Chris Betz said. “I think normally we send one or two. The most we’ve ever sent is four, and this year we’re sending seven. It’s a high honor to get selected to go to the All State group and it’s very unique to have seven go.”
The IMEC is a four-day event for music educators who belong to the Illinois Music Education Association, Betz said. While the educators attend seminars and workshops, the students will rehearse with a “renowned clinician” for performances on Friday.
Betz said the audition process for acceptance into the All State musical groups—choir, band, and orchestra—began with a school audition for all music students. Of the 175 members of the Stagg choir, 13 possible All-Staters emerged from the first round. Seven of the 13 made the cut at a second round at the district level.
Betz said the students prepare months in advance for ILMEA competition, many of them attending an “ILMEA Boot Camp” for one week in the summer.
“I’ve not been teaching very long, but in the five years I’ve been at Stagg, it’s the hardest working and most talented group of seniors and juniors that I’ve had, and it certainly shows with their success through the audition process,” Betz said.
Lynn Vallera, mother of Alex Vallera, 17, a junior in the choir and an All State choir member, said speaking from her son’s experience and her own as one of the volunteers for the Stagg music department, she regularly sees “how much time and effort these kids put into their craft, and it isn’t for just one season.”
Vallera said many of the students take voice lessons after the school day ends, sometimes staying after school until six or seven o’clock at night twice a week in addition to participation in multiple school bands which involve performances at school functions, sporting events, and competitions.
Alex Vallera is a member of the wind symphony, marching band, pep band, an a capella group and the chorale, she said.
Although no instrumentalists from Stagg were chosen to attend the conference this year, Betz said, band director Bob Mecozzi has been an important part of the choir’s success.
“All of these students are part of the band program — all seven of them — and so it’s a credit to (Mecozzi’s) teaching as well,” Betz said. :He really is a crucial part of their education.”
Music students from District 230’s Victor J. Andrew High School and Carl Sandburg High School also have been invited to perform at the conference, Betz said.
Sandburg’s Band Director Stewart Bailey said this is the first time in the past 28 years that the Sandburg band has been invited to perform at the IMEC.
The performances will be held in the 3,000 seat main theater of the Peoria Civic Center, 201 Southwest Jefferson St. at 11:45 a.m. on Friday.