Altoona hosts PMEA Region Chorus


Jaidyn Palladini

Working together. With over 40 schools, students took part in the annual PMEA Region Chorus.

Jaidyn Palladini, Associate Editor

From March 24-25, Altoona hosted the annual PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Region Chorus. Chorus teacher Kelly Sipes had been planning the event two years prior to the concert. 

Sipes hosted the event for the first time in her teaching career.  

“It was really an awesome experience,” Sipes said. “I had worked with our guest conductor in the past, and I knew how good he was working with students. He’s a lot of fun, and he is able to really bring out the best of everyone. I was really excited to have him and to have other schools visit Altoona. I’m really proud of our facility, and it’s a great place to host.”

According to Sipes, having other schools singing alongside Altoona was a nice experience. 

 “I love it. It’s really like the best of the best from every school coming together, so it is a really amazing sound,” Sipes said.

Sipes helped the students whenever it was needed. 

“The students do a lot of work on their own and learn all of their notes and rhythms to the songs, so they are mainly responsible for independently learning a lot of the music,” Sipes said. “I work with them on some of the real tough spots that they need help with.” 

Sophomore Jane Fox and junior Keira Mayhue participated in Region Chorus this year. 

“I sort of felt like I was going to get into it, but I was still really happy about it because it is kind of like the next level up,” Fox said. 

I couldn’t believe that I made Region Chorus,” Mayhue said. “It’s an awesome achievement, and I couldn’t be happier that I had the opportunity to participate.

This year, the annual festival was held closer to home rather than farther away.  

“I’m glad that it’s being held here so that I don’t have to go in a van back and forth,” Fox said. “I can also just go right home after, and there is a lot more room here than there was at District Chorus.”

I thought it was really cool that it was held here! We didn’t experience any weirdness with the festival because we had that sense of familiarity since it was held here,” Mayhue said.

Fox and Mayhue sang together with schools from around the area. 

“It’s kind of cool seeing how everyone else mixes together and their schools because every school has different singers, so it’s pretty fun seeing how that all plays out,” Fox said.

I always think it’s great when we get to sing with other people, and see the talent that their students have,” Mayhue said. “Plus, it’s an awesome way to make new friends that are interested in the same thing you are!

Mayhue and Fox practiced on their own with the additional help from Sipes. 

“I did a lot of sitting in my room with a piano up on my phone trying to figure out the notes for the songs and listening to the recordings over and over again,” Fox said. “In vocal ensemble, all period we worked on our song that is 15 pages of Latin.”

Preparing for PMEA was hard at times, especially with the music and every other activity in my life,” Mayhue said. “However, I tried to practice with the music and get myself as familiar with it as I could be. I also tried to use any extra class time I had to make sure I at least looked over the music.

Juniors Angela Petrarca and Benjamin Kennedy also participated in this year’s PMEA festival. 

“I was excited to be a part of the Regional Chorus. I always love learning from guest conductors and especially the regional conductor,” Petrarca said. “Dr. Beacon was my sister’s old professor at IUP, and he has a great reputation with his former students. I also was excited to advance with my new friends that I made at Districts.”

“I was very excited,” Kennedy said. “I was excited to be a part of this concert when it was at my own school, being able to learn from the guest conductor and being able to spend this time with my friends.”

Petrarca and Kennedy expressed their thoughts on it being held at her own school.

I think that I like it being held here, now with our new auditorium our acoustics are amazing, so it enhances the beautiful sound from all the singers even more,” Petrarca said.

I was very excited, I really wanted everyone to see our beautiful auditorium and just the rest of the school building because this was the first time a lot of people had seen it or at least had a concert in it,” Kennedy said.

Singing with other schools gave Petrarca and Kennedy the chance to make new friends and interact with students from other schools.

I love singing with other schools and meeting people that have the same interests as me. I have made so many new friends at PMEA festivals and can’t wait to see them again as well as meeting some new friends,” Petrarca said. “It also is the best feeling ever to sing with people with the same passions as you, it’s like Vocal Ensemble times 50.

I had friends from other schools who were performing in the concert, so it was fun to see them,” Kennedy said. “Besides that, it is nice to be able to sing with the kids from the other schools because every student that was here is very talented and auditioned to get here so you know they have the work ethic and experience to be here.

According to Kennedy, rehearsing wasn’t as challenging.  

“For me personally, I have a music teacher, Kelly Hartman, who I brought my music to and she went over it with me. She recorded my part for the songs,” Kennedy said. “Also, we took class time where our choir director, Kelly Sipes, went over the songs with us as sections. Also, Mrs. Sipes let us take time out of class where my one very musically talented friend, Luke Rokosky, who is in the same section as me, who ended up making it to state chorus the next step in the PMEA process, went over the music with me. Our director, Dr. Beacon said ‘If you give what you always gave. You’ll get what you’ve always got.’ I wanted to share that just because it seems important and as he described it. If you are constantly doing the same thing, your results won’t change. You have to try something different even though it might be scary. You have to try to get better.”