Skyline senior named to state Honors Choir

For Skyline High School senior Daniel Kurzenknabe, getting into the state Honors Choir meant devoting plenty of time to rehearsing.

Kurzenknabe, 17, learned on Monday that he was named into the Virginia Music Educators Association’s Honors Choir, after his audition at Longwood University in Farmville on Saturday. He’s the second student from Warren County Public Schools to be named into the choir since another Skyline senior had the honor in 2010.

Thomas Bowen, choral instructor at Skyline, said he usually sends one to four seniors to the strenuous and competitive audition each year.

“They’re all just competing at the very highest level for high school seniors,” he said.

Auditions for the Honors Choir involve performing a prepared piece and receiving a brand new piece to sight-read at the audition. Kurzenknabe said he’s had a lot of help from Melissa Chávez, who offers students private lessons with some financial assistance from the school. He’s worked with her for more than two years, starting with the 15-minute sessions at school and then moving on to longer sessions at her studio in his junior year.

“We’ve been practicing it for about a month now, really nitpicking and getting all of the fine details right,” he said.

In preparation for Honors Choir, he said students have given mock auditions during class. With a few similar auditions under his belt, he said the sight-reading portion was the most nerve-wracking.

Kurzenknabe will be heading to Hot Springs in November for the Virginia Music Educators Association conference, where the Honors Choir students will rehearse and perform a piece all together.

“Honors Choir is something I’ve never really thought about making … I’m really thankful I can put that on a college application,” he said. “For college, I’m leaning more toward acting than anything vocal, but those two can go hand in hand a lot of the time.”

In the meantime, though, he’ll be preparing for similar auditions for the Virginia Choral Directors Association’s All-District chorus, leading into All-Virginia auditions. He said he’s also prepping for other auditions in the spring and getting ready for two theater productions set for the end of the month.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or