Serenading the State

Seniors Penelope Dutton and Jared Livingston pose around the bust of Henry Lee Higginson at Symphony Hall on Saturday March 12. -Photo by Abigail Chandler

By Cassie Casey and Alexis Condon

The Boston Symphony Hall rang with the voices of the all-state choir, including two regional high school seniors–Jared Livingston and Penelope Dutton. The two were selected to perform at the music festival, from March 10-12, after going through multiple auditions in the region.

Performing Arts Department chair Jan Wightman first selected seven students in November to try out at the Southeastern Massachusetts Festival Chorus Auditions. Although five made it through, only three students were recommended to move on to the Massachusetts Music Educator’s All-State Choir. At the All-State auditions in January, two of the three students made it through. Jared and Penelope were given six pieces in advance, and one to learn during rehearsal.

Jared said, “The auditions were tough. For the All-State Choir, it consisted of a prepared piece and a sight-reading portion in which the judge would give us a piece of sheet music we had never seen before and a starting note, and we had to sing it. We didn’t feel confident after the auditions, but we got in anyway.”

Chaperone and music teacher, Abigail Chandler, said, “While the kids were rehearsing, the music educators attended a workshop to improve teaching skills. Being in a room of 216 students coming together to make incredible music in Symphony Hall was really moving and artistically impeccable.”

Singing at a renowned place like Symphony Hall was an eye-opening experience for the two. Jared said, “I came back from this experience inspired about music and with many new ideas for music and acapella at this high school. It was inspiring being there with some of the best musicians in the state. Our conductor, Dr. Apfelstadt, was incredibly talented. She taught us authentic Newfoundland dialect. I took notes on all of her warm-ups and techniques and brought them back to use in rehearsals here. We learned so many different techniques. We were being taught at a college level.”

Penelope said, “Being accepted to sing in an event like this proves that anyone can do it, because I’m not extremely out of the ordinary, or anything. If you put in the effort to prepare, anyone who really wanted to could achieve something like this, and it’s not unattainable.”