Director impressed with high school choir

By Tony Parra

Portales High School Choir Director Franklin Smith said Portales students represented the high school well for All-State.
Portales high school choir and band students performed in Albuquerque on Jan. 8. Seven members of the Portales High School choir were able to travel to Albuquerque for the 61st annual event.
Smith said there were 250 high school students from around the state selected for the mixed choir and 140 for the treble choir. Smith said one of the highlights of the All-State weekend was when four Portales High School students were selected to a 16-person quartet to perform in Pope Joy Hall at the University of New Mexico campus on Jan. 8.
Smith said the 16 members were selected from the 250 participating after tryouts. It meant that 25 percent of the quartet was made up of PHS students.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Smith said. “It’s the highlight of a high school choir career. It’s the top recognition, especially for the size of the school. It shows that if you apply yourself, you can do it.”
Smith said Portales students competed against larger schools such as La Cueva High School, West Mesa High, Clovis High, Las Cruces High and Roswell High.
“My heart stopped when I heard I was selected,” Charles Britton, PHS senior, said.
There were four students picked for tenor, four for alto, four for bass and four for soprano. Britton sang tenor, while senior Janelle Henry sang for alto, and senior Jason Dictson and junior Chris Jarvis sang bass.
“It was amazing,” Britton said about singing in front of a packed Pope Joy Hall. “Everyone had their eyes set on us.”
Henry said she wasn’t going to audition, but that Britton convinced her to do it.
“I’m glad I did,” Henry, who was making her second trip to All-State, said. “It was worth it. You realize that you’re just as good as any of the other students from around the state.”
It was the first time Jarvis made the trip to Albuquerque for All-State. He said he tried out last year, but was not selected.
He felt he wasn’t prepared enough last year, so he practiced more. In the first day of the school semester, he already had his solo act chosen.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Jarvis said about choir. “It was a great experience going to All-State.”
Senior Kristi Arnold went as first alto, while junior Christopher Esparsen went as first tenor.
“I plan on making it next year,” Esparsen said about All-State. “It’s a musical experience I’ll never forget. I learned a lot while I was there.”
The youngest of the seven who went, was Tamara Stroik, a sophomore, who was first soprano. Stroik said her goal is to continue singing and try to make it to All-State the next two years.
All-State band took place during the same weekend and three members of the Portales High School team were selected. Senior Megan Brunson, freshman MacKenzie Kennedy and senior Tyler Owen made the trip to participate in the All-State weekend. Brunson was chosen for All-State band for the second year in a row and this year she played the timpani and euphonium.
“I’ve been doing music all of my life,” Brunson said. “My musical talent comes from my mother’s side. My great, great grandmother played the piano. My mother inspired and influenced me.”
Smith said approximately 50 Portales High School choir members on April 28 will be making a trip to New York City to perform. They will compete against other groups from the United States. Smith has been director of the high school and junior high choirs for the last six years.
“I’ve learned all kinds of stuff from him,” Henry said. “He always goes to workshops to learn more. He brings back new techniques and he makes sure we know how to sing correctly.”
The selected choir students will have another major event with the district festival in Clovis on April 14.