Red vs White


The most competitive choir event of the year is fast approaching.

“I think we’re the only school district that I know of right now that does something like this,” Choir director Michael Rugen said.

Rugen is talking about the upcoming Red and White concert, a culmination of seven weeks of student-conducted choir practice that ends in a competition between two sides of Viking Choir.

Rugen explained the unique nature of the tradition.

“The students audition in front of the choir, they are selected by the choir, and then the students that are selected as four conductors then select their choir, so it’s kind of a give and take system,” Rugen said. “Once they’re selected, then they spend the next seven weeks rehearsing. At the Red and White concert, they perform in front of three judges.”

The title “Red and White” refers to the names of the two choirs: each of the two small choirs represents one half of H-F’s varsity-level choir, so it’s only natural that they’d represent half of H-F’s color scheme.

This year, seniors Emma Piotrowski and Alex Wright conduct White Choir, and seniors Joey Greenabaum and Zion Epperson conduct Red Choir.

Piotrowski said that earning the position of conductor was a good way to conclude her years in choir.

“One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to be a conductor was to kind of close off my senior year with the last big performance,” Piotrowski said. “Red and White has been a tradition for many years at H-F, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Being a conductor isn’t easy, however. Greenebaum said that the audition process was challenging.

“It’s a rigorous process; there were 14 or 15 people that auditioned this year,” he said. “You pick a piece and you have 10 minutes in class to try to teach this piece to the choir, and then the choir votes for four conductors.”

Winning the votes of fellow choir members is only the first step, however. Piotrowski described the relationship that conductors have with their choir.

“It’s hard, as a student, being in control of other students, but at the same time, it’s a great way to work together,” she said. “Everyone pitches ideas, and that way, rehearsals go really smoothly.”

This opportunity to take on a leadership role is beneficial to the conductors in and out of choir, according to Rugen.

“The purpose of the Red and White is to give students an opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills, and not just in a short, one-period class; this is long term,” Rugen said.

As Choir teacher, Rugen supervises in-school rehearsals and offers guidance as it is needed, but the rehearsals and commitment falls primarily on the students themselves.

“We have rehearsed every single day in class, and we’ve had many outside rehearsals at different people’s houses to prepare for the concert,” Piotrowski said.

The rehearsals are going well for both choirs as they prepare for the concert on May 25, and the conductors’ enthusiasm for their position is sure to keep the choirs on the right track.

“It’s really fun to get up there and be in control of the room and be able to see what you can do with the choir,” Greenebaum said. “It’s honestly an honor to be able to even be a conductor or even be involved in Red and White as a singer.”

Greenebaum said that although the event is a competition by nature, that’s not the focus of their efforts.

“Ignoring the fact that it’s a challenge is the most important thing and just going out and having fun,” he said.

The conductors are excited to showcase the hard work put in by themselves and their choirs. Performing in a tradition that has persisted since 1964 puts some pressure on the choirs, and each choir hopes to see an audience donned in their respective colors tonight at 7:30 p.m. for support.