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Hiland Varsity Singers are a picture of perfection at districts

Hiland choir director John Harris works with the Hiland High School Varsity Singers during practice following the group’s perfect performance at districts. Harris has had a long and successful career at Hiland and will retire at the end of this school year.

Dave Mast

With retirement looming at the end of this school year, long-time Hiland choir director John Harris doesn’t have a lot of performances left to direct. His students seem to want to send him out with a flourish.

On the heels of another wildly successful musical with its presentation of “The Princess and the Pea,” Hiland’s Varsity Singers stepped up and performed very well at the Ohio Music Education Association District 10 contest held at Shelby High School on Friday, March 10.

The choir competed in class AA, the highest possible level. The group performed three selections: “All That Hath Life and Breath” by Williametta Spencer, “The Ground” by Ola Gjeilo and “Daemon Irrepit Callidus” by György Orban, which collared three superior ratings from the floor judges. They received their final superior in sight reading.

The choir now moves on to the state competition held at Jackson High School on April 21, where it will perform in one of Harris’s final chapters of what has been a memorable career.

“When I talk to kids I have had five, 10 or 15 years ago, it always comes back to the relationships that are the biggest memories,” Harris said. “Music has the ability to really create a bonding experience. I have always told my kids I expect them to be very professional in what they do, but I also really want it to be fun and memorable for them.”

With former students littered throughout the continental United States, Harris said he still remains in contact with many of the singers who have made a mark on the Hiland program and have a spot in his heart.

“Those relationships are something that I will always cherish, and hopefully all of those students who have come through here and have been a part of my time here will be as blessed with the same kind of memories I have from all of these years,” Harris said. “My time here has been an incredible experience that I would not trade for anything. I love music, and I have loved having the opportunity to work with so many wonderful and talented young people over the years.”

Harris compared creating performances to creating something special in the kitchen.

“You want to bring as much out of these kids as possible, and sometimes it takes a lot of work, and you have to kneed that dough so hard,” Harris said. “It is like you are trying to bring all of these ingredients together and make something really special, and it isn’t always easy to make that special dish that you envision creating. But when it all comes together in the end, it is always worth every bit of energy and effort we all put into it, whether it is the musicals or Varsity Singers or whatever we are doing.”

This year’s Varsity Singers are sopranos Shauna Kline, Nadia Hershberger, Abby Rangel, Olivia Lowe, Kayli Keim, Elyse Miller and Lily Reese. Altos include Hanna Beach, Madeline Kauffman, Brooke Stutzman, Olivia Ward, Jennifer Wood, Sarah Kurtz and Marissa Sommers. Tenors are Isaiah Yoder, Ethan Habeger, Joey Miller, Timothy Schlabach, Clay Beechy, Brant Klink and Trent Schlabach. Basses are Earvin Keim, Darius Rolince, Braedyn Ayers, Luke Weaver, Brandon Hostetler, Michael Yoder and Kobe Shetler.

Published: March 17, 2017
New Article ID: 2017703179975