Q&A with State Choir qualifiers


Valeria De La Cruz

Three members of the TMHS choir earned a placement on the 2021 TMEA Large School Choir on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Students learned nine choral selections (see list below) over the course of 6–7 months to qualify. TM competed against students from 5A and 6A schools across South Texas. Juan Angel Sandoval earned 2nd Chair Tenor 2, Ryan McCauley earned 5th Chair Tenor 2 and Joshua Nepote earned 7th Chair Tenor 2.

Choral Selections

“Threads of Joy” by Amanda Quist and Tim Brent

“Ride in the Chariot” by Brandon Waddles

“Sleep” by Eric Whitacre

“Wie Lieblich Zind Dine” by Brahms

“Dies Irae” by Mozart

“O Sing to the Lord” by Dan Davison

“Jaglied” by Felix Mendelssohn

“I Will Be a Child of Peace” by Elaine Hagenburg

“Dance” by David Conte

How did it feel knowing you placed very well?

Angel Sandoval: My heart dropped whenever I read the result off of my phone. 

Josh Nepote: Well I was very honored to place at state again, I was shocked with the results and I was very happy!

Ryan McCauley: It felt very good knowing I placed well, I’ve tried to make state ever since my freshman year so it feels good knowing I finally did it.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten regarding choir?

Sandoval: I was working on a piece by Brahms with my director and I was singing too fast, and the one thing he told me was “wait for Brahms.” I know it’s weird, but it actually helped me with the rhythm.

Nepote: The best advice I’ve been given about choir is also one I use for life: chill out. I find myself being too tense before singing and it effects my performance, so all I need to do is calm down, and chill out.

McCauley: The best advice I’ve ever been given is to never be afraid to be a leader. 

Were you nervous before competing?

Sandoval: I tend to get nervous before every competition so I definitely got nervous since it was my final time competing.

Nepote: I was very nervous, as I am every year, this year’s competition process was a bit different so it wasn’t as nerve-wracking, but still, I was definitely nervous, but also excited for the opportunity!

McCauley: I’m usually nervous before competing but since the auditions were virtual this year it wasn’t so bad.

Was it hard learning 9 choral selections in the short time span of 6-7 months?

Sandoval: I’d say it was hard learning all of the songs, especially with the short time span.

Nepote: It’s actually not as hard as you’d think, but it did get difficult at times. I found myself on the edge of giving up, the pieces were difficult for some rounds, I’m just glad I was able to pull through.

McCauley: It wasn’t that difficult learning the songs, because it was spread out over several months making it easier.

Is competing against 5A and 6A schools more difficult than competing against smaller schools?

Sandoval: Oh yeah, competing against 5A and 6A is more challenging than competing with small schools mainly because of how many people audition.

Nepote: It’s much different, the larger schools have a more difficult music selection and more competition and materials. I’ve competed against large school in the past, so it’s no different from former years.

McCauley: It definitely is much more difficult competing against larger schools.

What was the hardest piece you had to perform, and why?

Sandoval: The hardest piece I had to perform is “Jaglied” by Felix Mendelssohn. It was the most difficult song mainly because of the one month I had of learning the music itself and the German words.

Nepote: The hardest piece I had to perform was called “Invocation and Dance” by David Conte. It switched between 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures frequently, you had to be a counting and rhythm genius to get it.

McCauley: “Dance” was the most difficult song, it’s a very rhythmically challenging song.

What was your favorite piece to perform, and why?

Sandoval: My favorite piece I performed was “O Sing To The Lord” by Dan Davison. I’m the type of person that likes fast-paced songs and this piece is that. 

Nepote: My favorite piece had to be either “Dies Irae” by Mozart, or “Wie Lieblich Zind Dine” by Brahms. The Mozart one is very dramatic, it’s about the day of judgment and God’s wrath, whereas the Brahms one is about the beauty and grace of the world and god, it’s beautiful really. 

McCauley: Jaglied by Felix Mendelsohn, though it was difficult, German is one of my favorite languages to sing.

How did you feel about the competition being virtual, how was it different ?

Sandoval: I think the audition process was weirder this year. Usually you only get one shot to do the audition, but this year was different. Since everything was online, I could delete my audition and do it again if I wanted to.

Nepote: The competition being virtual had its pros and cons, it made some aspects of the competition much easier and some much harder, for example, we were allowed as many takes as we needed for our recording, whereas in previous years it’s just one chance, and the sight reading portion was completely taken away. I would prefer an in-person competition, but for the safety of us all we must stay virtual!

McCauley: I hated that the competition was virtual, though it was necessary. It was much easier to perfect the audition though. 

Out of all the songs in the world which would you like to perform?

Sandoval: If this means any kind of song, there is one. It’s “The Sound Of Silence” by Disturbed. It’s one of my favorite songs and it would be cool to perform as a solo. 

Nepote: I would love to perform “Ave Maria” live one day. That’s a personal dream of mine.

McCauley: Out of all the songs in the world, I’d like to perform “Tuba.” It was performed at the TMEA convention last year and I fell in love with it. 

How is choir different when you’re performing on your own compared to performing in a group?

Sandoval: Whenever I perform in a group I get more comfortable, but whenever I’m by myself I get the fear of messing up while performing.

Nepote: Singing in a choir is much different than auditioning, in an audition you must exaggerate much more than you actually would in a choir to compensate, in a choir you would blend with the people around you.

McCauley: When you’re performing on your own you have to be your own leader, you can’t rely on others like you can in an actual choir. 

How do you feel about doing a virtual concert rather than a normal concert?

Sandoval: It stinks that the convention and concert are gonna be virtual, but I wonder how we are gonna do a virtual concert.

Nepote: I was a bit bummed out, the concert and convention was really amazing last year, and after working so hard this year I was hoping for it, but I completely understand why we would do it virtually, it’s simply unsafe to have that many people from around Texas in one place, so I’m just gonna have fun with it and enjoy it! I love choir, so I’ll enjoy this no matter what. What matters to me is that I was able to achieve this accomplishment.

McCauley: I wish we could’ve done a normal concert, its what I’ve wanted to do since freshman year.