PMEA District Chorus Festival! Music available now

Each school year, CHS sends several motivated singers to audition for the PMEA District Choral Festival. The experience is open to 10th-12th graders, and those in Select Choir will have class time to prepare for the audition. Here’s more on this exciting experience.

Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA)

organizes a yearly series of High School Chorus Festivals that bring together students from various school districts in our area, region, and state. Students learn a full concert program of music, rehearse it with a guest conductor, and perform a concert at the end of the three-day festival. Each festival is auditioned. Students who are accepted into the District Festival in January may have scores that qualify them for the Regional Chorus Festival in February; scores at Regionals can qualify students for the All-State Festival in April.

Here’s an example of the superb musical work you might do at Districts.  Under the direction of Dr. Lynn Drafall, the 2011 District 11 Chorus performs Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep.” (8 of these voices are from Cheltenham classes of ’11 and ’12!)

PMEA’s District Chorus Festival is open to 10th-12th grade students. Preliminary auditions of CHS students will be held at school a few weeks before the official PMEA District auditions. The CHS audition and the first PMEA audition consist of sight-singing and performing an excerpt of your vocal part in two assigned pieces. If you qualify for the District festival, the next official audition, on the first day of the festival in January, tests your preparation and performance on all 6-8 of the festival pieces. That audition can also qualify you for Regionals.

Here’s the rundown of District Chorus events:

  • Late October, after school:  In-House Auditions for Cheltenham’s District Chorus Candidates, CHS Choir Room
  • Sat, Nov 19, 2016:  PMEA District 11 Chorus Auditions at Upper Merion High School
  • Th-Sat, Jan 12-14, 2017:  PMEA District 11 Chorus Festival at Lower Moreland High School

Auditioning for PMEA District Chorus is a great opportunity for motivated musicians who want more experience learning new music, sight-singing, auditioning, and performing!

Here are the two audition pieces for 2016-17. 

Audition Piece #1: “He Watching Over Israel” from Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn [pdf] (from the Romantic Era)

Dr. Alan Raines conducting at Baylor University. (Note: a different piece starts at 3:41 on this recording.)

A lovely Seattle ProMusica performance conducted by Dr. Karen Thomas.

Audition Piece #2: “Exsultate Deo” by Alessandro Scarlatti [pdf]  (from the Renaissance Era)

Dr. Craig Arnold conducting Luther College’s Nordic Choir.

Auditioners will want to learn their voice part for the two pieces very thoroughly. Search YouTube for the piece name and your voice part (e.g., “He Watching Over Israel alto,”) and you’ll find plenty of resources for part learning.

In the audition, you’ll be given a starting pitch, then you’ll sing from a chosen point, a cappella, for about 10-25 measures. You’ll be evaluated on pitch, rhythm, vocal tone, and dynamics/articulation.

The audition will also consist of one sight-singing excerpt. You’ll be given a starting pitch, 30 seconds to study, then a starting pitch again.

For more details on the audition process, see this document.

For sight-singing resources, try here. If you’re interested in auditioning for District Chorus in November, have fun studying the Mendelssohn and Scarlatti!!


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