Eight students from Milbank High School departed Thursday, October 29, for Rapid City to take part in the 62nd South Dakota All-State Chorus and Orchestra event.
Representing Milbank are sopranos Jimmie Berkner and Lindsey Geyer, altos Whitney Falk and Ellie Webb, tenors Ben Harstad and Nathan Loutsch and basses Jeremy Dalldorf and Shawn Stemsrud. The group is being accompanied by MHS chorus director Miriam Schwenn and Marie and Jeff Loutsch.
Milbank is allowed to take two mixed quartets to the event based on high school enrollment. A local or area musician is hired each year to serve as an audition adjudicator who then selects two representatives and an alternate for each voice part. Alternates from Milbank include Janette Hall, soprano; Taylor Thue, alto; Connor VanVooren, tenor, and Chase Pinkert, bass.
They join nearly 1000 voices for practices and the Grand Concert tonight at 7 p.m. Mountain Time in the Rushmore Civic Center Arena. The students will be under the direction of Dr. Peter Ecklund of Lincoln, NE, and the concert will be broadcast on South Dakota Public Television.
The local students have been preparing the musical selections prior to attending the event. While in Rapid City, forty mixed quartets will be randomly selected to audition for the chorus committee during the first rehearsal to check preparation of music. In case of unpreparedness, the school will be rated as unsatisfactory and will be placed on a spot-check probation. The school then automatically would be required to audition the next time they attend the all-state chorus activities. “Spot check are a bit unsettling,” mentioned Schwenn. “We will know if one of our Milbank quartets are being spot checked by Thursday afternoon, but we will not know what selections will be asked to sing until Friday morning.” Milbank has been chosen to give a spot-check between five and eight times throughout the last 20 years, according to Schwenn. “I do know that Milbank has always passed,” she smiled.
The first South Dakota All-State Chorus and Orchestra event took place in Huron in 1953. Schwenn has taken MHS students to the event each year since she began her teaching career.