Student singers hit a high note

POULSBO — In their one shot at a state appearance together in late February, North Kitsap High School senior choir singers Heidi Nicks and Ariana Stinson kept low expectations.

“We were told we shouldn’t get our hopes up,” Stinson said of the strong field of singers.

Once Nicks and Stinson performed “Laudamus Te,” however, the judges had heard enough.

It was on to state for the pair.

“It was a complete shock when we made it,” Stinson said, adding that it proves “your voice really does matter.”

Together with the Northern Lights Choir, “Guy’s Group,” and an octet, Nicks and Stinson will be the only duet from North Kitsap to compete in Ellensburg at state, held late Friday and today. The two said they’re savoring their chance, complementing each other as the reasons for going to state.

“Heidi has a really beautiful tone quality,” Stinson said. “It’s really nice to listen to.”

“She’s really good because she helps me with my parts, helps me stay in time and hit all my notes,” Nicks said.

The pair are often told they balance each other, all the more reason that a state appearance was well received.

“It’s her best voice and my best voice at the same range,” Stinson said.

As usual, the choir has been busy in their spring semester. In February, five choir students — Scott Shawcroft, Tim Siburg, Mike Hulst, Angela Brainerd and Kyle Freidman — went to the prestigious All-Northwest program to participate with the chosen best from six states.

“It was awesome,” Shawcroft commented. “Probably the best group I’ll ever be in.”

The North Kitsap Choir’s annual spring break trip included several performances, including the Fullerton College Jazz Festival, held April 8. The North Kitsap Jazz Choir scored 267 points out of 300 from the judges at the intermediate level, attaining a fifth place finish out of 14 teams.

The Northern Lights Choir scored big at the festival, getting a 262 score to finish first out of eight choirs competing in the Novice B level.

“They did awesome,” said Howie Hulst, a parent chaperone who has gone on most of the choir’s trips in the past three years. “Especially compared to some of the other groups we saw, they did a really good job, with a lot of good competition.”

The next stop was the Columbia Basin Jazz Festival, held April 23 in Pasco. The Northern Lights and Jazz Choir both won first place out of five teams in their respective divisions.

Many individuals won outstanding soloist awards in Pasco as well, including Jack Ramsey, Lindsey Dunphy, Mikela Krech, Lisa Courtright, Stinson and Andrea Goddard. Ramsey, Jeff Cauter and George Watrous also took home “outstanding rhythm section” and Thomas Siburg received an “outstanding trumpet player” award.

Even so, every individual should be honored, said parent chaperone Cindy Watrous, who was impressed by the overall team support each member gives each other.

“One of the enjoyable things about them is that they work together as a team,” she said. “They work so hard. They’re always trying to improve.”

It all comes back to choir director Sylvia Cauter, Watrous said, for the amount of work she puts into the program and the enthusiasm she brings.

“Sylvia is a huge motivator,” “They enjoy the work because she makes it fun for them and she makes them each feel important.”

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