Bayfield High School senior Annabella Shocklee is nervous.
But in a good way. In a few weeks, she'll be joining 200 other female high school vocalists for the Colorado All State Choir.
Shocklee auditioned in November and was the only BHS vocalist chosen for state choir. But when she arrives in Denver to start rehearsals, she has to sing a few bars of music to make sure she's learned the music. Performers who haven't learned it sufficiently are sent back home.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so nervous!" she said.
Shocklee will perform in the All State Women's Choir on Feb. 4 at the Colorado Convention Center after two days of rehearsal.
"Bella is a remarkably focused and driven performer," said BHS music director Derek Smith. "To be selected, she had to really work on her music theory, ear training, and sight singing. She has a great ear and ability to match pitch, but in the last year her musical sight reading has improved tremendously. A lot of people have great voices, but very few get selected for All State unless they have a very strong foundation in music theory and reading. Bella spent a lot of time sharpening her skills, and put a ton of work in."
This was Shocklee's first audition for state choir. For tryouts in Durango, she had to prepare a folk song, and chose "The Water is Wide," a Scottish piece. Then she had to sing intervals, triads and scales. The state choir is divided into women's, men's and mixed choir. Vocalists don't get a preference, they're just assigned to the group where their voices blend the best, she explained.
Shocklee sings first alto, the highest register of an alto vocalist.
Only a handful of students from BHS have qualified for state choir since 2005, and Shocklee is the first female singer. Jayde Mitchell and Frank Harvey sang at all state in 2012, and Harvey returned along with Patrick Derrickson in 2013, Smith said.
Shocklee is the daughter of Jill and Zeke Shocklee. Her mother studied voice in college and taught vocal lessons. Growing up in a musical household, Shocklee said she started singing as a baby. She also has studied violin, upright bass and can play a little piano.
She's considering attending Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, possibly to study criminal justice with a vocal minor.
Right now, she's focusing on learning six pieces for the state performance: "Miq-Mak," "Merfey," a song in German, "Ava Regina," "Truth," "Joy," and "Psalm 23." The music is difficult, and she practices with the instrumental accompaniment whenever she's in her car.
"It's insane," she said. And having to learn the piece on her own, instead of in her select choir class, is a challenge as well, although she appreciates her mother's coaching. "I'm so excited. I'm really nervous."
Smith said Shocklee is up to the challenge.
"At All State, the level of music is far far beyond anything we perform here," Smith said. "The difficulty, the complexity of the music is at the highest levels. The choirs are also huge. There are over 200 of the best singers in the state in each choir."
The conductors are world-class musicians as well, so students learn a lot from them even in just a few days, Smith noted. The director of the women's choir is Kristina Caswell MacMullen of Ohio State University. Shocklee will journey to Denver with her mom and Smith for the three busy days of rehearsals and performance.
"We are very proud of her," Smith said.