The members of the Frederick County Public Schools All-County choir might wear differently colored robes from their respective high schools, but they sound like one united group when they sing – everything from Brazilian folksongs to Latin hymns.

The choir, along with the All-County band and orchestra, performed at the FCPS All-County High School Festival Saturday at Thomas Johnson High School. One hundred forty-six students participated after being selected through an audition process. 

John Karos, the Instrumental Music Director at Tuscarora High School, looks forward to seeing students from different schools working together during the rehearsals and concert.

“It's really great to see students not only work with their peers but work with students from other schools, and it's a really nice opportunity for us to showcase the level of music within our county,” Karos said. “It's really the only time during the year where we get the chance to see all the students together, in ensembles performing.”

The students certainly enjoy that element, too. Isabella Lowery, a junior at Urbana High School, has been a part of the All-County choir for the past six years.

“I feel like the group is always different every year which is cool, and being able to sing with different people from different schools because we don't get to interact that much even though we're all in the same county,” Lowery said. “So this is a way for us to meet new people and get out of our comfort zones.”

The students must complete an audition with scales, sight reading and a prepared piece in order to be selected for an All-County ensemble. This is a great opportunity for students looking to pursue music further, Karos said.

“They have to do a lot of auditions either to get into other institutions or other ensembles so it serves as a good example for them in that respect,” he said, “but it's also basically it gives them an opportunity for them to play harder music as well.”

The harder music is a big draw for the students who do audition, who want to try their hand at more challenging pieces than they usually play in school.

Noah Nail, a senior at Thomas Johnson who plays percussion, liked the experience of more fast-paced rehearsals.

“It's been really great, all of the people here are super talented, so it's a lot easier to progress faster,” he said. “And the conductors can make more sophisticated comments and stuff.”

In addition to the challenge of the audition and the harder music, the students are then directed by a guest conductor outside of the school system. The choir students, for example, were led by Rachel Carlson.

Lindzie Gordon, a junior at Urbana High School and a member of the All-County Choir, said that she loved Carlson’s positive approach.

“I like meeting the guest conductor because it gives you a really great experience ... learning about different teaching styles with the music,” she said.

Ethan Dudash, a junior at Thomas Johnson High School who plays the baritone saxophone, agreed that it was interesting to work with a different conductor.

“It's a different experience, because we're obviously used to working with this game person every day, so it's nice to get a new set of eyes on stuff and give you new ways to look at things,” he said.

The All-County Middle School ensembles will perform their concert on Saturday, Feb. 8 also at Thomas Johnson High School, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley

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