Senior Honor Choir: The Breakdown


Senior Honor Choir, sponsored by VMEA, took place in Norfolk from November 18th-20th, giving the top singers in the state a chance to work together and perform.


The Virginia Music Educators Association hosts a number of events and opportunities for high school musicians to participate and nurture their love of music. One such event is Senior Honor Choir, a select and prestigious event that is offered to seniors annually. 


Students are selected from 500 to 800 auditionees, depending on the turnout each year,” Woodbridge choral director Joel Shapiro explained when asked about the process. 


Singers must complete a rigorous audition process where techniques such as tone quality, diction, and intonation are judged and musicianship skills like sight-reading are tested. Finalists are chosen and have the opportunity to collaborate with renowned directors and composers at this honor event. This year the event was directed by acclaimed composer Andrea Ramsey, giving high school seniors the chance to work with a professional musician.


This year was the first in-person Senior Honors Choir since 2019 due to COVID.  It was great to see a return to live honors choirs, and to start out with a knockout conductor like Andrea Ramsey was the cherry on top.” Shapiro continued. 


There were many beautiful compositions featured for the concert in Norfolk. Such songs included Ramsey’s Hope Lingers On, Canto, and The Journey; different genres and cultures were also introduced with the performance of Terre Neuve, Stabat Mater, and I’ll Make the Difference. Students were especially excited after the pandemic limited performance opportunities, collaborating with each other to produce dazzling music once again.  


“It felt like an exclusive experience,” choir student Kori Jones remarked about her time at the event. “I’ve done several honor choirs throughout my life and this was definitely my favorite because I made connections. Everyone I met was respectful and outgoing, and even though we didn’t know each other, the shared love of music made us feel less alone.”


For young musicians and singers across Virginia, Senior Honor Choir is a memorable experience that shapes their skills and interests. After a difficult year of struggles and challenges, this event created an open environment to bring high school students together again and spread a message of hope.