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Two PSHS students selected for All State Choir

Two Pagosa Springs High School concert choir members, Ami Harbison and Robert Neel, have earned the honor to sing with the 2010 Colorado All State Choir.

This choir consists of a elect group of high school juniors and seniors from around the state. The two students will travel to Denver in February to study with a prominent conductor and to perform. Harbison was selected to sing with the All State mixed choir and Neel was selected for the men’s chorus.

Auditioning for All State Choir is not for the weak of heart. This is by far the most difficult of the Colorado high school vocal competitions. Singers are required to audition alone in front of a judge, presenting a difficult memorized solo. They are scored not only on their ability to sing accurately and beautifully, but also on their knowledge of music theory and their skills at singing complex note sequences. The judge, who is a highly-trained professional musician, selects a relatively small group of singers from those who have auditioned from around the state.

Harbison, a senior and the daughter of Drew and Anna Harbison, showed her musical prowess at an early age. As a student of both piano and voice, she was a charter member of the Pagosa Springs Children’s Chorale, directed by Sue Anderson. She has been selected for roles in Music Boosters productions since 2003. Her lovely soprano voice and outgoing personality has landed her numerous starring and supporting roles both in Pagosa Springs High School and Music Boosters productions.

In 2008, Harbison appeared as the naive and adorable Little Red Riding Hood in the 2008 Music Boosters production of “Into the Woods.” Most recently, she wowed audiences in her challenging role of “Maria” in the PSHS spring production of West Side Story. She will have featured roles in the upcoming Music Boosters musical review in December.

Harbison hopes to continue her studies at Fort Lewis College next fall.

Robert Neel, a PSHS junior, arrived in Pagosa Springs only a year ago with his parents, The Rev. Doug and Sally Neel. He also has had an extensive musical background in piano and voice, beginning his piano training at the age of 6. Under the tutelage of Tami Christ in Dallas, Neel has earned 10 consecutive gold medals for his superior scores on the annual Texas State music theory exam. He has also received numerous superior ratings in judged piano competitions in Dallas.

Upon his arrival in Pagosa Springs, Neel quickly demonstrated his vocal and acting talent as the dim-witted but loveable giant-slaying “Jack” in the 2008 Music Boosters production of “Into the Woods.” He went on to play a leading dramatic role as the gang leader “Rif” last spring in the PSHS production of “West Side Story.” Neel will recreate his role as “Jack” in the upcoming Music Boosters production in December.

Neel’s goal is to train to become a professional actor in musical theater.

Certainly, having choir members selected for All State Choir brings well-earned prestige to the growing music program at PSHS directed by Dan Burch. There is no doubt that choir and band students, as well as the community at large, are reaping the benefits of Burch’s talent and diligence in his efforts to develop this important educational program. Pagosa Springs can expect to see much more evidence of blossoming musical talent and training among its students.