Choir to make a new class: Sorono

Music provides a reliable, underlying beat to the daily rhythm at Waunakee High School, from sights of the band students lugging their instruments through the hallways to choir students showing up at the crack of dawn to practice singing. However, a beat is being added to this rhythm with the development of a new choir class: Sonoro.

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, the choir department had three classes: Chorale, the freshman choir class; Concert Choir, a class for singers in sophomore grade and up; and Grazioso, a class for treble singers. Choral instructor Molly Petroff taught each class. In the middle of first semester, however, she announced a two-part idea to her students. This idea was, first, to rename Grazioso as Sonoro; and second, to start holding auditions to get in, as well as to open it up to tenors and basses. 

“There was a need to have a little bit more differentiation [between choir classes],” said Petroff. “We had a beginning level, and we had two intermediate levels. And the only auditioned, advanced group we have is the one that meets in the morning, our vocal jazz group [Kee Notes].”

The differentiation Petroff mentioned will hinge on the level of song performed by Sonoro, which Petroff plans as requiring even more dedication and musicianship than needed for performance in the other choir groups. 

However, the songs will only be different in the degree of intensity required in learning.

“Songs for Sonoro won’t be too different. [My goal is] picking songs that will challenge our intellectual capacity and our understanding of other cultures and human beings, and what our current struggles are as human beings… We express that through our music and try to connect and find commonality between cultures… And that’s what we do in all our choirs,” said Petroff.

“I personally auditioned for Sonoro to be a part of a more focused and rigorous choir, where I would be challenged everyday alongside my peers,” said junior Jonah Leland, who will be a member of Sonoro come next fall.

“I am really looking forward to doing more difficult pieces, and [showing] more dedication to the music.”

Petroff also provided insight to the process of joining Sonoro. “So the structure is Chorale for one year, then Concert Choir for one year, and then you can audition for Sonoro.”

Sonoro’s name was picked in the fall of 2019 by students from all choirs. Choir students were provided several options by Petroff, and ultimately decided on Sonoro because it sounded both musical and inclusive, although the name holds no inherent meaning.

The most recent major event for the music department was the district Solo and Ensemble music festival, which took place on February 29th, at DeForest High School. In preparation for the festival, music students prepare solo and group pieces by putting in individual time as well as meeting with coaches. Students are then judged at the festival, and those who receive star rankings go on to the State Festival at the end of April, at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“The journey [of Solo and Ensemble] was awesome… I don’t know what it was about this year, but I think students were well prepared. Even students that took on challenges found a way to meet those challenges. I really enjoyed seeing them grow,” said Petroff.

Petroff ended her interview on an inclusive note. “There’s always a place for everyone to sing. If you come to my door, our door, to do that, there’s always a place for everyone. I want to make sure there’s a place for everyone to grow, and that there’s a piece that’s right for them.”