Senior makes All-State Chorus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

After auditioning for the Virginia Music Education Association’s All-State chorus on Feb. 16, Nansemond River senior Michael Heffington went to the Greenbrier Middle auditorium to wait for the results. The next three hours lasted a lifetime.

&uot;I just sat there and prayed,&uot; Heffington said. &uot;This is what I’m going to college for.&uot;

His singing skills recently won him acceptance to Liberty University’s music program, where he intends to study worship and music ministry. A four-year member of the River chorus, Heffington was faced with his last shot to sing with the state’s best.

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He’d started as a freshman baritone, then switched to a Bass 2 (the deepest singers) in his sophomore year as his voice changed naturally. He made All-District IV three times, the last time coming on Nov. 13. The year before, he’d tried out for All-State, but hadn’t made it.

The morning of the event, which is also sponsored by the Virginia Choral Director’s Association, Heffington and the rest of the area’s best Bass (there were about 30 other competitors) sat down and waited to perform.

&uot;We talked about how nervous we were and tried not to think about it,&uot; he said. &uot;We decided to just go in there like it was a normal chorus class.&uot;

He stepped into a classroom, and was handed a page of music. There were no words, only notes. Heffington was ready to sight-sing, in which competitors are judged on pitch and tones.

&uot;We’d learned a lot about it (at Nansemond River),&uot; he said, &uot;so it wasn’t too bad.&uot;

He then sang a selection from Handel’s &uot;Achieved is Thy Glorious Works.&uot; (at districts, it had been the composer’s &uot;Where’er you walk&uot;). Other categories of judging included preparedness and beauty of voice.

Then there was nothing else to do but wait. Several other participants went home, including some of Heffington’s teammates; 49 Suffolk students tried out. But he wasn’t going anywhere.

Then River chorus teacher Joleen Miller came up and gave him some welcome news. Not only had Heffington qualified for All-State, but his score of 181 (out of a possible 200) was the highest Base 2 score at the competition (the top two highest scorers were selected). His schoolmates Josh Tarwater and Alonzo Small had been selected as Tenor alternates.

&uot;I was excited and extremely relieved,&uot; said Heffington, who will sing with the rest of the state’s best at Fairfax High April 27-30. He’ll also perform with the city’s best at 7 p.m. on Friday at Suffolk’s All-City chorus at King’s Fork Middle School. &uot;I was here last year, and I finally made it this time.&uot;