Choir students singing at a recent concert

Two Salem High School seniors, Madison Ball and Ilana Thomas, have been accepted into the accomplished All-State Choir this year. 

All-State Choir is a program held in Fort Wayne every year in which many high school choirs in the state participate. Each of those school’s choir directors select a few of their students to audition for a spot in the choir. “It’s the best singers from all over the state of Indiana,” said Salem’s Choir Director Verda Slinkard. 

Those who make it past auditions have rehearsals with other students from nearby schools. The students all practice until January when they meet together to perform for the public under the guidance of a guest conductor. This is only the second year that Slinkard has sent students from Salem to audition for All-State, but it’s the first year that her students made it past the rigorous auditions. 

Slinkard shared the difficult process of getting accepted into the All-State Choir: “The whole system is a point system, when you make a mistake, points are knocked off… it has to be as near perfect as you can do it.” In the auditions students perform a piece of music that was previously sent to them. They have to do some sight reading for the judges as well. After auditions, the directors and their students wait for the results and hope that they were “perfect” enough. Both Thomas and Ball accomplished just that. 

“I’m just so proud of these two kids from Salem to make it… they are the first two who have ever made it… they stepped up to bat and hit a home run,” said Slinkard. The whole process of what this choir does gives singers a chance to work with more experienced directors and other talented singers. 

“I think singing in a group is a good chance to expand your horizons,” said Thomas, who had previously gone to Columbus North and participated in the Middle School All-State Choir when she was younger. “Everybody there knows what they are doing and is dedicated to it and it’s so cool to be able to sing with so many people and produce such an amazing sound… It's just an amazing feeling.” 

Thomas has been singing in choirs for around 12 years and has developed a love for singing. Unlike Thomas, Madison Ball has only been in choir for two years. “I’ve never really done anything like this before,” said Ball who had joined choir in her sophomore year. “ I’ve played instruments my whole life… and I’ve always sang as well and I just wanted to incorporate it into my day to day life and extend my range.” 

Ball is looking forward to the performance “we probably practiced (the audition track) a hundred times,'' she said. Thanks to their hard work both seniors are ecstatic about the performance. Thomas said,  “I can’t wait to perform with some of the greatest high school singers in our state.”