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Grand Sound: FDSH A Cappella Choir Receives Highest Honors in Competition - from The Messenger

January 20, 2023

It was all about the music for the Fort Dodge A Cappella Choir, as it recently traveled nearly four hours to share its vocal talents in an annual competition.

In an open church setting with high ceilings and perfect acoustics, the FDSH A Cappella Choir wowed judges and brought home Grand Champion honors as well as Best Bass Section.

"Regardless of the outcome, this trip is always such a fun and meaningful experience for our students," said Fort Dodge Choir Director Matt Drees. "Winning first place is such a great validation of the hard work and immense passion that our students have for performing high quality choral music.

"I am extremely proud of our students not only for their performance, but for their conduct in representing our school and our community while on the road."

Fort Dodge, which was entered in the Onalaska Classic in Onalaska, Wisconsin, visited the First Lutheran Church there for the competition.

"This trip was so much fun, and such a great opportunity," said Fort Dodge senior Grace Tolliver. "Not only to grow musically, but to become closer as a group and establish meaningful connections with other members of the choir."

Each choir performed its music for a panel of judges. The panel tallied up scores and gave written feedback to the groups. The performances were then ranked against other schools participating.

There was also an on-stage clinic, where one of the judges would work with the choir.

Programs from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin participated.

"Events like this are such a great opportunity for our students to not only get a chance to perform outside of our community, but also to hear and see performances from other high school choirs," Drees said. "Performing in a beautiful space, listening to other choirs, and receiving critical feedback from respected clinicians makes this such a rich experience for our students."

This year's Dodger group prepared four songs for the event. The FDSH A Capella Choir performed "Psallite" by Michael Praetorious; "Ilus Haal," arranged by Laura Jekabsone; "There Is No Rose" by Connor Koppin and "Daniel, Daniel Servant of The Lord," arranged by Undine Moore.

Fifty six Dodger A Capella members attend the trip.  Members include: Aaron Amhof, Nathan Beekman, Lilly Benning, Katherine Berry, Sol Birkey, Morgan Bodholdt, Nahila Bracey, Mikeal Campbell, Grace Casciato, Daniela Castillo, Darilynn Cook, Camden Doster, Keymore Douglas, Keyonna Douglas, Logan Eddington, Saige Eddington, Maggie Elsbecker, Micah Flaherty, Hailey Folsom, Sydney Gebers, Gracie Grady, Reigan Grossnickle, Logan Hamilton, Olivia Hamlow, Alexander Hansen, Trice Jakeman, Chloe Jessen, Lilly Johnson, Ereziah Jones, Makenna Kammerer, Joshua Madden, Ryan Madden, Lainey Maehl, Jacob Marxen, Britta McCollum, Abby Meyer, Landon Meyer, Drayton Miller, Hope Miller, Michael Miller, Isabella Munoz, Haevyn Myers, Reese Pederson, Ezequiel Pineda, Evan Pratt, Alexis Romero, Brayden Schmieder, Gabriella Schumacher, Ella Sells, Jack Shimkat, Grace Tolliver, Michael Wagner, Drake Wertz and olivia Wood. 

"For an event like this, I really try to create a program that is diverse," Drees said. "With this set we've got a variety of time period, language, and style as well as music from both male and female composers/arrangers.

"This is all music from our first two concerts of the year that we have continued to polish during class for this event."

Senior Aaron Amhof was making his first trip to Wisconsin for the competition. He enjoyed every minute of the event and the journey.

"This was my first time going to Onalaska and it was such an amazing experience," Amhof said. "Getting to perform with such a talented group of people and being named Grand Champion is something that I will always remember."

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