Acing the ACE Festival

By Rhett Nyman.

The Heritage Academy choral program had a wonderful opportunity a couple of weeks ago to participate in the ACE festival. The Arizona Choral Educators put on the ACE festival where high school choirs from all over the state perform and were judged. This year our very own Mr. Rakita organized and hosted the ACE festival. Volunteering at the festival, many students from the choral program assisted with the flow of things. Heritage Academy sent its top three choirs (Concert Choir, Advanced Women’s Choir, and Chamber Singers) to Chandler-Gilbert Community College to participate in the festival.

During the festival, groups are rated on two things. Firstly, choirs perform their prepared set of music that they have been working on for that quarter. After they perform, they have the privilege of working with one of two amazing judges, who are often directors for professional choirs. From then they are rated based on their performance; they could receive a ranking of poor, fair, good, excellent, or superior. After they perform their set, the group is taken to be judged on their ability to sight-read.

Sight-reading is the ability to perform music without previous preparation or study. To test a groups ability to sight-read, the students are handed a four-part sixteen bar sheet of music that they have never seen or heard before. Students are then allowed five minutes to look over the piece but are restricted from singing even a single note. After the five minutes are up, the group gets their first attempt at singing the song. Once the first attempt is made, the group is allowed an additional two minutes before they make their final attempt. The group is then scored based off their final performance. If a group gets a high enough score on sight-reading they are awarded a distinction in addition to their other score.

I am proud to announce that all three of Heritage’s choirs got the highest score available at the festival, superior with distinction. This would entail that the group only got a maximum of 9 points taken off, which is very hard to do. Not only did the groups get superior, they also scored high enough on the sight-reading portion that they got a distinction, with two of the groups getting a perfect 50 out of 50. This is great news for Heritage as it solidifies the choir’s confidence in themselves. As Mr. Rakita said, “This is only the beginning for us; let’s use this accomplishment as a stepping stool to help us reach the next level that I know you guys are capable of.” If you would like to see our amazing choral program in action be sure to come to our concert on December 11th at the United Methodist church.

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