WESTOVER — A Harmony Area High School student has been selected to sing at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Chorus Festival.
Senior Emily Rorabaugh, 17, was recently chosen to represent District 4 in the Alto I section at the festival which will be held virtually April 14-17. Although school records are not available before 1987, she is believed to be the only Harmony student chosen to participate at the state-level.
“When I first found out I had been selected for the state festival, I was thrilled and in a state of disbelief. I put my heart and soul into learning the music and to know my efforts paid off is great. Ever since I was a little girl, I wondered what I would accomplish as I grew older. I often pictured myself as a senior, and of course, my senior year has been far from what I imagined. However, placing first chair in regional choir and moving on to states has really made this year feel more positively memorable, and I am so thankful,” Rorabaugh said.
Rorabaugh comes from a musical background. Family members on both her father’s and mothers sides of the family sing and play instruments.
“From a young age, I took interest in singing. When I was 2-years-old, I began singing in church programs. My late Grandmother, my Dad Mark Rorabaugh’s Mom, was actually one of the ones to suggest my brother and I become involved in the church’s children programs. My grandmother was very interested in singing. In addition to relatives on my dad’s side of the family that sing, my Uncle Roger, Aunt Jeanette, and cousins, Marie and Jonathan, all have musical talents ranging from singing to instrumental abilities. My Grandma Patrick, my mom’s mother, has always inspired me to pursue my musical aspirations as well. She sings and plays the piano, and has played a large role in my life when it comes to music. My mom, Diana Rorabaugh, who is another huge inspiration of mine, and her siblings all sing: Uncle Denny, Aunt Lou, Aunt Lori, and Aunt Denise. In church, I sing with my mom and my aunts to provide special music throughout the year. I have other relatives as well that have a history of singing. The support I have received since I was a little girl from the musicians and non-musicians of my family is profusely appreciated,” Rorabaugh said.
Rorabaugh said she enjoys the range of emotions singing provides.
“My favorite thing about singing is that it gives my mind the opportunity to go to a different place than where I actually am. Different styles of music bring different feelings for me. If you are able to embrace various meanings as a singer, it is truly beautiful,” she explained.
Rorabaugh has been a part of school musical events for years.
“I participated in county chorus in grades 9-11 and district choir from grades 10-12 There was no county choir festival this year, or I would have definitely been a part of that.”
Because of COVID-19, festivals scheduled for last year or the current school year were canceled or are being held virtually.
“Pre-COVID-19, a Clearfield county choir festival would included one day of practice from the morning to late afternoon on a Friday, typically in October, with a concert the following Saturday morning. Normally a district choir festival would be spread out over three days: Thursday for auditions (to potentially progress to regional choir) and rehearsal, Friday rehearsal, and a concert on Saturday morning.
Rorabaugh said the 2021 all-state festival will be done differently to avoid the spread of COVID-19, as were the preceding qualifying chorus festivals. “Because the district choir festival event would have exceeded COVID-19 capacity limits, virtual auditions were held. Singers had to practice, record, and send in audition pieces they previously provided. After placing fifth chair out of the top ten in district choir this year, I moved onto regional choir in which the same auditioning process was pursued.”
The state festival will be virtually held from April 14-17. Rehearsals will be mostly held in small groups with either the conductor or section leader, and will occur in the evenings of Wednesday, April 14, through Friday April 16. Saturday, April 17, directions regarding the concert will be reviewed. Instead of a live concert, there will be a mass recording consisting of compiled student voices. The window to send in recordings will occur April 17-23.
Harmony’s music Instructor Jennifer Fox said, “Emily has worked so hard to achieve all of this success; she’s truly earned her spot in all-state choir. The Harmony Music Department, as well as everyone in the school, could not be more proud of Emily. Despite all the obstacles and trials, she has come out on top. She’s an inspiration to all of us in the music department.”
In addition to chorus, at Harmony, Rorabaugh participates in softball and school musical productions. She is also a member of Harmony’s National Honor Society chapter, president of both the Student Council and The Owlet newspaper club and senior class vice president. She has also sung the national anthem for the varsity boys and girls’ basketball games for five years.
Outside of school, she is a member of the Burnside United Methodist Church where she plays the piano and sings. She is also a member of the Calvary Evangelical Church’s youth group.
Rorabaugh plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania to earn a degree in dietetics and eventually become a registered dietician.