Assistant Professor of Vocal Music at Dodge City Community College (DC3) Kerry Kuplic, stood on stage inside the DC3 theatre Friday, Sept. 27 in front of approximately 100 high school students.
His objective? To help them prepare for the Kansas All-State Choir.
The high school students, holding their sheets of music, stood up in front of their chairs singing as Kuplic directed them, waving his hands and stopping them mid-note to say things like,
"Again!...Don't be overpowered by the piano!."
The students, who were part of Kuplic's workshop, rehearsed by singing three pieces, "Cloth of Glory", "I don't feel no ways tired" and "Zeni Sancte Sprirtus."
Kuplic, who brings a multitude of musical experiences to the classroom, including performing with the Florentine Opera, performing in France, Germany, and the UK and most recently in Switzerland as a professional opera and concert singer, shared his experience and knowledge with the young singers by working on phrasing and emotion among other things.
With the music piece, "Cloth of Glory" - based on a tragic event, Kuplic shouted out to the students,
"Sing this beautifully and expressively! ...Bring out the beauty and the sorrow! ... Passion!- Passion! Passion!."
Kuplic said he was really impressed with the students' level of preparation and sense of artistry.
"One of the pieces was a recent composition about the 911 event," He said. "I was really pleased with the way the students handled the emotion and the depth of the piece, and the poetry."
For Kuplic, it was his first workshop, being the new director at DC3, however, he said he was really looking forward to this experience and he certainly wasn't disappointed.
"I'm very happy with the way it came together and I really can't wait to do it again next year."
The students finished their six-hour day that began at 8 a.m. - finishing at 2 p.m. with a combined rehearsal that included all four voice parts, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass followed by a presentation from the Dean of Students.
Kuplic said working with high school students is not only an opportunity to help prepare them but for DC3, it presents an opportunity for potential recruitment.
High School students from all over Southwest Kansas will audition for district choir and All-State choir Nov. 9 at the Dodge City Middle School. Freshman are only eligible to audition for district choir.
According to Dodge City High School Director of Choral Music Kelly Knedler, during the audition the students would have learned three pieces of music where they would be judged on three snippets of two pieces.
Page 2 of 2 - Knedler said when the students audition, three adjudicators will be present in the room with their back turned to students as they sing their piece. The adjudicators only know students by numbers, they will not know the name of the student or what school they are from.
The students will be scored on a point system, scoring them on beauty of voice, technical aspects, rhythm accuracy, dynamics, and pronunciation of words.
Approximately 200 students from Southwest Kansas will be chosen for the district choir scheduled to take place Dec. 7 at the Dodge City High School. The district choir will feature a guest conductor who will work with the students before performing that same afternoon at 3 p.m.
The top 32 students from each voice part will then be named to the All-State Choir which will take place over a course of three days, Feb. 27- March 1 in Wichita. There, the students will work with a world-renowned conductor along with 200 to 400 other chosen students.
"Those who make it to All-State Choir will be singing with the top of the top," Knedler said.
Knedler said a lot of self-preperation and dedication goes into preparing for the auditions - something his students demonstrate.
"This means a lot to them," he said. "It's a big deal to be in state choir- ultimately, it comes down to their work ethic and talent."