Choir students make Corry history, qualify for National Honors Choir


MaKenna Moore

Taylor Fenstermaker and Ryah Lambert

MaKenna Moore, Reporter

Senior Taylor Fenstermaker and junior Ryah Lambert have recently qualified for National Honors Choir. This is a big accomplishment, not only for the girls, but the Corry Area School District. They are the first from Corry High School to qualify for this special opportunity. To get some first-person views on this, I asked Mrs. Smrcka (the chorus teacher), Taylor Fenstermaker, and Ryah Lambert some questions about this honorable occurrence.

Our first respondent, Miss Fenstermaker took time out of her day to put thoughtful answers into the questions I asked, and this I very much appreciated. When asked , “How long have you been a part of choir, and what drew you into the singing world?” Taylor replied, “I have done choir since sixth grade. I joined choir because I love singing and my mom participated in choir in high school as well.”

She told me about her experiences in choir and PMEA Festivals and I was so excited to be able to get to ninth grade and do all of those things, too. After her inspiring response, the questions continued, “What was your reaction when finding out you qualified?” Taylor said, “I found out I was accepted into the National Choir while I was in the middle of recording a video for Spanish class! Mrs. Smrcka messaged me to let me know and I started crying because I was so excited. I called Ryah right away and we went out to get milkshakes to celebrate.”

The third question reveals Taylor’s dedication to this opportunity: “How did you prepare for your audition?” She said, “Mrs. Smrcka and I worked on the two-page piece that I then had to record a cappella. We went through line by line to check notes, dynamics, and rhythms to ensure it was the best performance I could give.” 

Next, I was interested in what Taylor’s favorites were, including part to sing, thing about being in choir, and musical she was a part of. Taylor answered,”As a Soprano 2, I often sing the melody of the song; however, I love to sing harmonies, which is the part that makes the song have more depth and sound more interesting.

“My favorite types of songs to sing are from Broadway, more specifically shows from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. My favorite part about being in choir is the community that is created and the connections made through rehearsing with the same group of people every day. It is also amazing celebrating their accomplishments and achievements together.

“My favorite musical I have ever participated in is ‘Little Women’, which we performed and recorded last spring. Not only is this show itself amazing, but I loved working with all of my peers that were also in the show. I improved my singing and performance skills and I made many new friends.”

The second respondent, Ryah Lambert, enlightened us with her take on these questions as well. When asked “How long have you been in choir, and what introduced you to the singing world,” Ryah answered,”I have been singing in choir all of my life, and music/piano/singing are like my therapy.” This reply really shows just how important singing is to Ryah among other things.

When asked  what her reaction was when she found out about her qualifications Ryah said,”When I found out I qualified for Nationals, I screamed, ‘What?!’, and my mom got afraid because she thought something was wrong. Then I started crying because I really did not think I was going to make it.” 

The next question reveals how Ryah prepared. “I prepared for my audition by practicing the material a lot and memorizing it; however, I was sick when I auditioned, unfortunately.” With Ryah being sick, one can imagine how difficult it must have been to audition for a singing opportunity.

For the last three questions about “favorites,” Ryah answered,”My favorite voice part to sing is Soprano 1 and Soprano 2.”

She continued, “My favorite thing about being in choir is that music really binds people and allows you to connect on a whole different level. You make life-long friends, especially at the festivals when they are in person. My favorite musical would have probably been ‘The Addams Family.’ We weren’t able to do it because of Covid-19, but I was in love with my role in that play. ” Overall Miss. Lambert seems to be very physically and emotionally involved with her part in this qualification.

The last respondent, Ms. Smrcka, played a major part in the girl’s accomplishment. Ms. Smrcka is the choir teacher at Corry High School. She is over-the-moon excited for these girls, and what they have done. When asked, “How have things changed with choir over the years since you’ve been a bit limited due to Covid-19,” Ms. Smrka responded with, “It’s been very different, and a bit challenging. The students have had to do online auditions, and they haven’t had many musicals or concerts in the past three years due to restrictions.”

When asked how she was feeling about this accomplishment Ms. Smrcka said, “I was thrilled they were the first musical students to qualify for this special opportunity at Corry High. They were the two soprano qualifiers out of four to make it. I am just very proud of these girls.”

When asked how someone should prepare for this qualification or partake in this event, Ms. Smrcka said, “It takes consistent preparation and determination in practice everyday. You have to be able to do all four steps of the auditions confidently. It takes lots of patience as well because it’s a process of elimination type of audition.”

Finally when asked what one piece of advice she would give others who want to accomplish this, she said, “Don’t let others pull you down; if music is your passion then go for it.”    

Both of these ladies really express their gratitude and appreciation for their acceptance. This is something that they will be able to remember for a lifetime, and something I’m sure will leave them wonderful memories. Things like these opportunities can take these young and talented girls to great places.