Top of the Nation honors program brings stellar voices to Alamosa

Courier photo by John Waters Beth Robinson, Director of Choral Activities at Adams State University, spoke to the audience at the Top of the Nation concert at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa on Feb. 24. Over 200 high school students from across Colorado participated in the concert.

High School Honor Bands at Adams State on Saturday

ALAMOSA— To a packed church, over 200 choristers from high schools across Colorado gave a rousing concert to a standing-room-only crowd on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa.

The concert was the culmination of a three-day program hosted by Adams State University as part of the "Top of the Nation," High School Honors Choirs 2024 program.

According to Beth Robison, Director of Choral Activities at ASU, the choral program has been an Adams State tradition for over 30 years and is going strong.

"This is an opportunity for students from around the state to come to ASU, we have two choirs, one is an audition choir and they submit an audition and are accepted that way. The other is a director-recommended choir so it is an opportunity for choir directors to recommend their students to be involved in this experience.

"The students arrive on Thursday morning and we rehearse Thursday and Friday and then we do the concert on Saturday afternoon, said Robinson."

Father Carlos Alvarez with Sacred Heart Church, told the Valley Courier he estimated about 370 people were attending the concert and added, "Philosophy speaks of five universals which may be known by all persons: truth, beauty, life, unity and being.  Sacred Heart Church is truly blessed to host the Adams State University Top of the Nation Honor Choir and Band as our beautiful Church building is an ideal venue for their beautiful voices and music.  We are honored to have the Adams State University Music Department on our campus anytime to elevate our human souls through song and instruments."

The performance of Hayden's 1796 Gloria from Heilgmaesse sung in the original Latin resonated well in the Catholic church.

The annual choir program has been a part of the Alamosa cultural scene for decades and is both an artistic and economic benefit to Alamosa.

"The ASU Top of the Nation concert was a huge success! The performance was amazing! It was great seeing hundreds of students and their family members and friends in attendance. This goes to show ASU has a first-class staff and music program," said Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman who attended the concert.

The concert opened with O Magnum Mysterium by Swiss composer Ivo Antognini whose music is fittingly described by Irish artistic director Desmond Early as "transporting the listener emotionally into a different kind of space."According to the composer, the work was written for a small church choir, "as a gift for these good people that came once a week to prepare Christmas songs," and as a tribute to J.S. Bach.

Kim Waller, a music teacher at Alamosa High School brought three student/musicians to the program said, "The choirs are conducted by guest clinicians from other parts of the country, one of the clinicians was Dr. Kevin Beaber who is a retired music teacher from the Denver area and the other is, Dr. Tod Fish, a professor from Texas. It is always nice for students to get a different experience from their high school teacher. They can get a more upper-level college-level professor experience directing. The students often get to sing literature that is more difficult than their high school performance."

Waler added she has been at Alamosa High for 16 years and participated in the Top of The Nation program every year.

Shea Jordan a soprano and one of the AHS students said this about the program, "I always love it, I've been able to participate in the Top of the Nation program for three years. It has always been an amazing experience; I love the people and I love singing. Being able to participate and be in that choir, especially with the songs we sing, is just close to my heart and a social experience."

Jordan added that singing One Boy Told Me, a work composed by Timothy Takach, was a favorite song and, "It defiantly reminded me of my brother."

David Chacon a tenor and student at AHS said, "This was definitely fun and a new experience being in such a big choir compared to what I'm used to. The was more challenging and a social experience as well, you meet people from different areas."

Chacon said his favorite song at the concert was Anything, by American composer Ayrian Norman.

ASH student Scott Hopper, also a first-year performer at the concert said, "I thought it was really fun and great to balance off of just one tenor. Singing with a really big choir was cool and I got to do it in the church I go to.”

Hopper added his favorite song to sing was, One Boy Told Me, "Just because the tenor has such a fun part in that."

The repertoire from the concert included several songs not sung in English and when the AHS students were asked if they had previously sung in foreign languages, all the AHS students confidently responded that they had.

The song “Anything” has these lyrics, "I can be anything I can be. I will be anything. I will be everything I want to be." For the talented musicians from Alamosa High School and the several hundred other vibrant high school musicians who participated in the ASU Top of the Nation program, these are indeed fitting words.

High School Honor Bands at Adams State on Saturday

ALAMOSA — The Adams State University, Top of the Nation High School Honor Band, a program similar to the ASU choral honors program, will host about 60 musicians at ASU this weekend and have a free concert under the direction of James M Lind, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Adams State. The concert will be held in Richardson Hall on the university campus at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, and the public is welcome to attend this free event. Lind said he is excited to welcome clinicians Andrew Trachsel and Mark Emery to the program.

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