The Mars Hill Choral Festival is a choral festival that Mars Hill University puts on every year. More than 700 high school students audition in this festival, and only the top 350 achieve a spot in the choral program. Selected students of the Starmount High School Show Choir went to audition for the festival at Mount Tabor on Oct. 12, 2017.
After the auditions, the students anticipated the final results of the selection process. Jesse Houston said, “Mrs. (Kelsi) Jester simply gathered all of the people who auditioned, and told everyone who made the cut at one time.”
Jester announced three of the 10 competitors had been selected: Adam Houston, Jesse Houston and Nathan Trivette, along with a member of the Forbush High School Show Choir, Brady Miller.
The time came to leave for Mars Hill.
Jesse Houston said of the trip, “Funny story, actually, the day we had to leave we got delayed a little while due to the threat of bad weather on the way. Then we arrived and practiced with the massive choir for the rest of the day and then went to the hotel for the night.”
Nathan Trivette remembered the next morning. “We woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel and then went to practice at the college until lunch, we all went to eat at the college cafeteria, then we dressed for the concert later that night.”
The concert was a sight to those who performed. “It was interesting due to the fact that we were able to perform in the same concert as the college choirs from Mars Hill University,” said Trivette.
The first song the festival choir performed was a song entitled, “Personent Hodie,” directed by Dr. Rodney Caldwell, the director of choral studies at Mars Hill. In this song, all of the high school choral directors that had students in the event, coordinators of the festival, members of the Mars Hill band, and choirs joined in for this song.
“Dr. Caldwell was a different type of director than Dr. Brad Holmes, the guest conductor who had worked with our choir for the majority of the rehearsal time we had there. Dr. Caldwell was really intense and explosive when he conducted this song, while Dr. Holmes was very poetic and smooth when he conducted our songs,” Trivette said.
After the concert was over, the students changed back into casual clothes and met their families and choral teachers to head back home. The three Starmount students went to thank Holmes for the weekend that they had. The question was asked of Holmes, “What would you tell your 17-year-old self? What advice would you give him?”
He replied with words that have stuck since, “Don’t wait around on your dreams. If you want to pursue music, find a group and start performing. Chase your dreams. Get your feet wet.”
Adam Houston is a student at Starmount High School.