By Logan Puissegur
Contributing writer, Clarion Herald
As a performing singer at Holy Cross High School, I have had the opportunity to learn from and experience various music conventions, concerts and competitions. None compared to my selection for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) all-national mixed ensemble.
To qualify for this prestigious choir, one must have made both an all-state and all-district choir in the previous year. I accomplished this by placing in the top five at district and making both the LMEA all-state mixed choir and the ACDA all-state men’s ensemble. For acceptance into the LMEA all-state choir, one must perform a blind audition composed of singing a selected piece and sight read a sheet of never-seen music. I have now made and participated in both all-state ensembles. I would never trade those four weekends of learning music, making new friends and creating lifetime memories for anything. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to sing alongside some of the best high school singers in the state.
After making an all-state choir in 2017, I qualified to audition for the NAfME all-national choir. I had to learn, sing and record a piece of music selected by the NAfME committee. It took two months to review and select singers for all 240 positions. I, alongside fellow Holy Cross seniors Trey Nickens and Ashton Stephens IV, were selected and participated at nationals held Nov. 25-28 in Orlando, Florida, at Disney’s Coronado Hotel.
Singing and more singing
It was a week of singing, guest speakers, performances and, everyone’s favorite, Disney World.
Within a few minutes after our first practice, I knew this was going to be the best choir I had ever been in. While the group consisted of the nation’s best singers, that fact did not kick in until I heard the eight-part harmonies locking to create beautiful music.
Our conductor, Dr. Amanda Quist, was extremely talented, and the pieces were well written. “I have musically learned and grown so much in only a few days from singers, band members and music educators from across the country,” Ashton said. “I will cherish these lessons and the trip for the rest of my life.”
Another thing about nationals is the people you grow close to. I became good friends with three guys from Alaska, Washington and Massachusetts, and two girls from Virginia and Ohio. Spending the week eating meals, going to parties, listening to concerts and going to Disney with them and my two school friends put the trip over the top.
I was sad by concert time because I realized I would never see most of them again. But, there was no question that the all-national choir tops any group I have ever been in, as the audience could attest.
“The amount of talent in the choir is remarkable,” Trey said. “Not only did the group sound amazing, but the trip was a journey of excitement that ended with a perfect finish.”
After spending nearly 20 hours in rehearsal and delivering a great closing product, the trip was over, and no one was ready to leave. While saying goodbye was tougher than any pitch or rhythm, I am so thankful to have experienced such a great opportunity, and I cannot wait to see where singing takes me in the future.
Logan Puissegur is a senior at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans.