Ms. Kaliah Tice (Sr.) went to Nationals last weekend in Orlando, Florida! This marks the third time a student from the district has been selected for this event (the first two were Jacob Hemmingway and Ben Hopkins) but, this is the very first time any choral student has ever been selected for this honor!
Kaliah auditioned for the KMEA All-State Choir last fall (2018). She was selected and once the All-State Performance weekend was over, she expressed interest in auditioning for Nationals. She had to already have made our state choir, which means out of 7,000+ singers from across the state that auditioned, she had to be in the top 7% of the state to even be awarded the opportunity to audition for Nationals.
She then sent in a taped acapella recording of a very difficult 17th Century Art Song (the same requirement for all auditionees) and that audition, including her State Qualifications, was the only way she was measured against the top vocalists across the country. The NAfME National Honor Choir only selects 30 singers per voice part for the entire ensemble...a total of only 240! Imagine filtering the nations top high school vocalists to only the top 240. The most recent KSHSAA Journal confirms that in Kansas High Schools there are over 17,000 students singing, making it the most participated activity in Kansas schools...17,000 students in Kansas alone.
Considering all of that, Ms. Kaliah Tice was selected as one of the top 240!
When she arrived in Orlando, she knew she was in prestigious company. Nearly every student she spoke to came from a magnet school, or specialized school for the performing arts. Many of the students she spoke to took vocal lessons...daily. When Nicholas Griggs spoke with her during her breaks she communicated just how overwhelmed she was with everything...it's intense to be surrounded by so many of the nation's best. Her rehearsals were designed to create a professional atmosphere. Students were active, they were engaged, they were creating with the conductor by offering their own musical suggestions and interpretations, and they were all attentive for hours on end.
There was time built in for Kaliah to visit with recruiters and admissions counselors for the nation's top music conservatories. The schools were so foreign to anything she had experienced and so overwhelming specialized, that she told me..."I'd just be happy with going to Wichita State."
Her last day, the awkwardness had finally worn down a little and she had finally met the other 17 students from Kansas, but only one other was from a rural "ish" high school like ours. During one of her last rehearsals she stopped singing for a second and looked around and finally...the "light" went off. She realized just how unique this experience was, how incredibly talented everyone around her was, how no one in her high school had ever been selected for this opportunity...and how she would never get to do this again!
Her performance later on that evening included literature composed by the world's top composers, and content that included topics near and dear to our hearts like mental health and depression. One piece featured testimonials from high school students that survived near suicide attempts.
Finally, the last wow of the night was a piece written by a high school student from the Kansas City area. He won a national composition competition and one of the rewards was having the NAfME National Honor Choir perform his piece...this ended up being one of Kaliah's favorites, because of the student that wrote it, and what he wrote about. Kaliah said it resonated with her and her peers.
There were thousands of family members and directors that traveled from nearly every state to be in attendance for the performances! There were two standing ovations during the choir performance, one for the performance of that Kansas City student's composition, the other for the excellence that the students in the choir performed with.
In the program, Kaliah's name was next to her voice part and concluded with "McPherson, KS."
She single handedly represented all of us, and did an incredible job doing so!