PHS choirs turn in ‘Superior’ performances

By Belinda M. Paschal -

PIQUA — Three choirs from Piqua High School struck a pitch-perfect chord with judges at the recent Ohio Music Education Association Southwest District XI Choir Adjudicated Event, where each group earned across-the-board “Superior” ratings – an unprecedented feat in the school’s musical history.

The women’s chorus, concert choir and men’s chorus from PHS each earned four Superior ratings from the three judges evaluating their song selections, as well as the judge who evaluated their sight-reading skills at the competition, held March 3-4 at Bellefontaine High School

“All three choirs at PHS have qualified for state in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2014. Never have they all qualified with straight Superior ratings,” choir director Tom Westfall said. “We left Bellefontaine High School with 12 Superior ratings. That has always been a goal of mine in my teaching career, but one the choirs have never achieved until this past weekend.”

In addition to being a first in PHS history, the school was the only one in OMEA District XI to qualify with straight Superiors, Westfall added. District XI encompasses Miami, Darke, Shelby, Champaign, and Logan counties.

“I was really proud of the kids and the choir staff for achieving this goal. It was very unexpected and exciting,” Westfall said.

The students were preparing to return to Piqua when they learned the last of the three groups had earned a perfect score.

“The men’s chorus was the final choir of our three groups to perform. They were already on the bus when I told them the news and the bus erupted with cheers and high fives,’ Westfall said. “They knew the pressure was on, as we already knew the other two choirs had achieved straight Superior ratings.”

With 77 members, the women’s chorus performed pieces including “Jubilate Deo” by Lightfoot, “The Poet Sings” by Stroope, and “Get on Board” by Rentz, The concert choir, which features 70 members, sang such selections as “Festival Cantate” by Johnson, “O Love” by Hagenberg, and Hopkins’ “Praise the Lord.” Finally, the 50-member men’s chorus helped bring home the victory with Lightfoot’s “Cantate Hodie,” “My Heart’s in the Highlands” by Johnson,” and “Elijah and Joshua” by Albrecht.

“I am most proud of all three choirs for their Superior rating in the sight-reading room,” Westfall said. “Each choir is given a short selection they have never seen and must complete a process and sing it for the judge. This room can be super stressful and the kids have been working very hard on this skill.

“I would also like to thanks Mrs. Beth Fair, assistant choral director; Mrs. Carol Palmer, the music department aide and choral accompanist; the PHS/PCS administration for their support; and the PHS Music Boosters for all they do help provide for our music students.”

The choirs will now learn a new song from the OMEA required list to add to each of their repertoires for state contest, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, at Tippecanoe High School.

“We will try and juggle spring sports, and hope to bring home three state plaques to add to our collection,” Westfall said.

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341


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