Students excel at Plainfield Solo & Ensemble Festival
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org February 18, 2013 10:52PM
Ashlee Errthum performs a solo accompanied by Janet Kirer during the District 202 High School Choral and Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Contest at Plainfield South High School in Joliet, Illinois, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. | Karen Gioia ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 20, 2013 6:14AM
The song “Mr. Sandman” has vocals that gently ascend and pop like soap bubbles, instrumental backing that creates the same floating effect, and four voices together in the verses, like a single soft curtain.
A vocal ensemble from Plainfield South High School worked hard for three weeks to capture the dream essence of the song. On Saturday, the four student vocalists competed, won and earned a place on stage during the school district’s Honors Recital.
The recital, held at Plainfield South, is part of the Plainfield Solo & Ensemble Festival.
Crystal Lyons, Lindsey Mayer, Savannah Riestenberg and Rachel Tucker performed “Mr. Sandman,” a 1954 classic recorded by the Chordettes. Heather Reddout accompanied the students on piano.
“This is my first year doing anything at Solo & Ensemble. I was pleasantly surprised,” said Tucker, a junior. “We got onstage, and we just gave ’em our best, and it felt really good. I felt really accomplished.”
“We took time out of our schedules to meet, and go to each other’s houses, and really work out a song,” said Mayer, a senior.
Between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday, musicians from the four Plainfield high schools — Central, South, North and East — performed for judges in one of 16 rooms at South. A few rooms were used for vocalist competition.
A student or group had a 15-minute time slot: first for a performance, then for an instructional clinic by the judges. The feedback from judges was the most important part, said Jason Hawkins, director of choirs at Plainfield North High School.
The judges gave the students rankings of 1 through 5, with 1 being the best. Judges also awarded “best in room” honors — and the recipients performed at the Honors Recital.
Students selected for the Honors Recital were:
Magen Hauser, flute, Central; Ashlee Errthum, voice, North; Matt Gladem, Larranz Guider, Erik Sanchez and Leif Sebby, saxophone quartet, Central; Tyler Vogen, piano, Central; Jenna Disandro, oboe, North; Allison Hodges, voice, South; Hannah Weidner, marimba, East; Victoria Chandler, Stephanie McLeod, Jessica Osif and Ben Wyland, flute quartet, South;
Skylar Lipman, bassoon, Central; Crystal Lyons, Lindsey Mayer, Savannah Riestenberg and Rachel Tucker, vocal ensemble, South; Leif Sebby, alto saxophone, Central; Allie Clink, Elyse Fleck, Emily Orden, Tyler Smith and Eriq Vazquez, brass ensemble, Central; Thomas Michael Harris, trumpet, North; Max O’Mary on clarinet and Jessica Osif on flute, South; Tim Fuqua, clarinet, East.
Accompanists were Kathy Frost, Janet Kirer, Heather Reddout, Heather Hiemenz and Debra Miller.
Lyons, a sophomore in the South vocal ensemble, said the judge helped the vocalists smooth out their performance. After that, the students waited for their rankings. After Lyons’ group received a top ranking, there was another wait to find out if “Mr. Sandman” would be in the Honors Recital.
When the group got the good news, Riestenberg celebrated with her classmates. The senior has participated in Solo & Ensemble for four years now.
“I started crying. I was so excited, I gave them all a huge hug,” she said.