Two students in The Gunnery's Music Program, tenor Drew Sutherland ’21 and alto Yolanda Wang ’20, have been chosen to perform in the National Association for Music Education’s 2020 All-National Honors Choir, which represents the top vocalists in the country. They are scheduled to perform in a gala concert celebrating music education and the arts on November 5‒8 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
The nation’s top high school musicians audition for the opportunity to rehearse and perform in this one-of-a-kind national music honors program. Students must compete at the regional and state level to become eligible for this distinguished honor. Both Sutherland and Wang auditioned and were selected for the 2019 Northern Region High School Chorus and 2020 Connecticut All-State Choruses sponsored by the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA).
On April 2‒4, both were scheduled to perform at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford – Sutherland in the All-State Mixed Chorus, directed by Jeffrey Douma, Director of the Yale Glee Club and a professor at Yale School of Music, and Wang in the All-State Treble Chorus, directed by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, choral conductor at St. Olaf College. The event was one of many that were canceled in response to the global pandemic.
Undeterred, the students submitted their audition tapes for the All-National Honors Choir this spring and learned just this week that they had both been selected. Ron Castonguay, Director of the Arts and director of The Gunnery's Vocal Ensemble, was clearly proud of their accomplishments. “Students can only audition for this choir if they are selected to their state's all-state ensemble. The All-National Honors Choir consists of the top vocalists in the country, and with all of the work that Yolanda and Drew put into their singing and technique, they have certainly earned and deserve this honor,” he said.
The 2020 All-National Mixed Choir is one of six NAfME honor ensembles that will perform in November. Its 240 vocalists will be directed by Frances Fonza, the Director of Worship and Arts at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland, and a teacher at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.