ELKO — The Northeastern Nevada Honor Choir performed Tuesday night in the Elko Convention Center, featuring 165 students from northeastern Nevada.
Elko, Humboldt, Lander, White Pine and Lincoln counties had students represented in the honor choir. Sixty-five of those students are from the Elko High School Honor choir.
All students in the state honor choir must participate in their regional choir, and then audition for the state honor choir. The honor choir performs once a year at the Elko Convention Center. The center is chosen as the performance venue because the stage is large enough to support all of the students in the Northeastern Nevada Honor Choir.
“I make all of my students in my top group try out,” said Elko High School Choir Director Karen Rodgers. “They rehearse for two days straight, and they put the whole concert together in those two days.”
Each student singing in the honor choir was wearing his or her individual school’s choir uniform to create a sea of colors. Elko High School’s choir uniform colors are maroon and black.
Guest Conductor Dr. Michael Huff was returning for his third year to direct this choir after previous performances in 2006 and 2013. Huff is the director of choral activities and head of the piano area at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
“I just love coming here,” Huff said. “The students want to be great, and they work really hard.”
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The concert features patriotic music. The program first features each school’s individual choirs to sing a piece, and then they converge to sing together in the state honor choir.
The selections are the “Navy Hymn” arrangement by Huff with piano accompaniment, “America the Beautiful” arranged by Huff, “The Star Spangled Banner” with all four verses, "God Bless America", and a medley of military branch songs called “Proud to Serve.”
“Where I used to go to church in 2003, on the Sunday near the Fourth of July, we always sang the ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’” Huff said. “It was hideous with only three of the four verses, and I turned to my wife, and said that something needs to be done. That’s when I decided to write this arrangement, and it’s been performed by honor choirs and in music education clinics since then.”
The program was created to remind Americans of the ideals that leaders and writers such as Thomas Jefferson and Francis Scott Key promoted, and for which many Americans strive for these 240 years later, Huff explained as he talked about the music. Some of those ideals include supporting the soldiers in our armed forces, reverence, and reflecting on American values.
“It’s a concert to pay tribute to those who serve, but also to remind us of our ideals of America as a city on the hill of the world,” Huff said.
Connie Muir was accompanying all program pieces on the piano. The audience was also invited to sing with the honor choir for a medley of songs for each branch of the military.