Singing festival brings junior high students to Ames

The yearly Opus Festival Concert is being held in Ames at Iowa State University on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m..

Each year about 3,000 students audition to participate in this elite, all-state style concert. The students in grades five through nine had to prepare three different pieces that were recorded and sent in to judges who volunteered to listen to the entries and are selected based on experience and skill level.  Out of the 3,000 students, only 720 were selected for four choirs consisting of 180 students.

At Holmes Junior High, Gabrielle Bamford (grade seven), Amelia Bryant (grade seven), Adriana Parziale (grade seven), Abby Forsyth (grade eight), Xanti Castillo (grade seven), Varun Gulwadi (grade seven), Stockton Neibert (grade seven), Torin Brown (grade eight), Colby Cryer (grade eight), Matthew Edler (grade eight), Henry Rouw (grade eight), Alex Stoner (grade eight), Carson Wirtz (grade eight), Christian Becker (grade nine), Koro Castillo (grade nine), Ryan Marten (grade nine), Isaac Morlan (grade nine), Emma Shepard (grade nine), Ella Stineman (grade nine) and Aaron VanRoosendaal (grade nine) all made it into Opus.

At Peet Junior High, Nathan Standing (grade seven), Ethan Beneke (grade seven), Henry Giddens (grade eight), Ahmad Madlock (grade nine) and Caroline Schafer (grade nine) successfully made it into Opus.  These five students have practiced with their choir teacher Samantha Eilers a couple times a week and every day on their own.

“I try to make sure I’m in the right mindset.  Being in the right mindset is so very important to practicing effectively.  I’m very proud of all the work everyone has put in, and I’m looking forward to the fruition of it,” Madlock said regarding the hard work the musicians put in.

Adam Orban, a high school vocal music instructor in Algona and the chair of the Opus Festival who is in charge of the details of Opus such as directors, music, audition materials, programs and facilitating the audition process, said, “Opus [is] a way to encourage our younger singers in the state and to give them an All-State caliber performance opportunity…. [The day of the performance] the students rehearse from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m., and then put on a concert at 4.  It’s a long day for those students, especially the younger grades.” Even though it takes a lot of work and time, the students found the effort worth it. “Music is a means to escape from reality for a short period of time kind of like relaxation,” Standing said.

“I feel kind of fuzzy because I finally accomplished something that I have been grasping for, [for a while].” All of the work and stress has pushed the students in a way only an opportunity like Opus can.  “[Opus impacts me] because of the way I am pushing myself to get better,” Beneke said. “[The auditions were] heart pounding because of the way you are trying to get the song perfect.”During the day of the event, all five of these students said they agreed that a big part of the event isn’t just the tryouts and work, but it is the people that they can meet and bond with. “I think the best experience is meeting people in the choir the day of the concert,” Shafter said. “Opus giv[es] me the chance to sing with other talented singers my age around the state and [lets] me put myself out there.”

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