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Elite High School Students from Katy Selected to All-State Choir


February 17, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

16 talented choir students from Katy ISD high schools advanced to the prestigious All-State Choir this year - the highest honor a Texas music student can receive. Over the weekend, they performed at the 100th Texas Music Educators Association Convention, in San Antonio.

Pictured (left to right): Katy High School All-State Choir students, Kenneth Nguyen, Abigail Bahng, Emily Adams, and Taylor Nguyen

Of the 14,000 high school students who initiate the All-State Choir process, only the top 3% of Texas choral students actually make the All-State Choir. After six months and four rounds of auditions, the hard work and dedication paid off for 16 Katy ISD students.

“The All-State process is one of the most rigorous individual competitions a choir student can attempt,” says Brian Miller, Director of Choir at Katy High School. “It pushes them to be personally responsible for collegiate level music and musicianship.”

Katy High School

All in the Family

Sophomore Emily Adams returned for her second year in the All-State Choir. This time, the alto 1, earned the coveted position of first chair in the All-State Mixed Choir.

Siblings Kenneth Nguyen, senior, and Taylor Nguyen, a sophomore, also represented Katy HS this year. Kenneth, a tenor 2, performed with the All-State Men’s Choir and Taylor, a soprano 2, sang with the All-State Treble Choir.

“They both placed 8th chair,” says Miller of the talented pair. “I’m secretly happy for this because it minimizes the playful sibling bickering of ‘who is better.’”

Abigail Bahng, a sophomore, also placed 8th chair, and performed with the All-State Treble Choir. She said they all started learning the music during the summer break.

“KHS has a tradition of the choir students attending the All-State music camp at Stephen F. Austin State University in June," Bahng says. "Last summer there were over forty of us!”

Miller adds, “As much as we work with them and prepare them, it all comes down to a three-minute snapshot showcasing months of work. They must learn to accept grace in defeat and humility in triumph!"


Seven Lakes High School

Three-Time All-Stater

Erica Yanek has been selected to the All-State Choir for an impressive third time. The Seven Lakes HS soprano was 5th chair this year in the All-State Mixed Choir.

Yanek, a senior, says she started preparing for this year’s All-State process last June when the music was released.

“The amount of dedication I put into this has taught me that nothing worth wanting is without sacrifice and striving towards obtaining it,” says Yanek.

Director of Choir at Seven Lakes HS, Randall Klint Jordan, says the students work with the guidance of their choir directors and private voice teachers to develop their own vocal technique, critical listening skills and overall musicianship.

“The auditions themselves prepare the students for college auditions and job interviews that require thinking in the moment and executing a long-term plan of action,” says Jordan.


Taylor High School

Pictured (left to right): Jackson Lester, Julian Burton, Casey Carruth (teacher), Alice Yoon, Kevin Riehle (teacher), Emmie Siebert, and Casey Taylor

5 Noteworthy Singers

Choir Director Kevin Riehle recognized the great achievement of his choir program.

“Taylor HS is celebrating its highest number of all-state choir members ever (5),” Riehle says. “Additionally, all five earned spots in the top choir, the All-State Mixed Choir.”

Junior Alice Yoon, a soprano 1, was selected to the All-State Choir twice. This year, she was joined by junior Casey Taylor, soprano 2, senior Emmie Siebert, alto 2, freshman Julian Burton, tenor 2, and junior Jackson Lester, bass 2.

“These students dedicated themselves to personal excellence, exacting discipline and achievement from the moment the All-State repertoire and summer camps were announced,” says Riehle. “They have consistently ranked in the top few of their peers, displaying mastery in both musical knowledge, vocal production and interpretative skill.”


Mayde Creek High School

Practice Makes Perfect

Senior Zach Durgin, is a two-year All-Stater who placed 3rd chair as a junior, and 2nd chair this year in the All-State Mixed Choir. He is also a member of the Houston Grand Opera High School Voice Studio and plans to be a college professor of Voice.

Ruben Alcala, Director of Choir at Mayde Creek High School says, “It helps students understand how hard they have to work to compete with some of the best singers in the state.”

“I prepared five to six hours a week and I’ve learned great work ethic, musicality skills and time management,” says Zach Durgin.


Tompkins High School

Pictured (left to right): Colton Lummus, Natalia Orozco, Jackson Baker, and Alejandro Caprile

History-making Voices

Christin Reinartz, Director of Choir at Tompkins High School, recognizes that the All-State process has be instrumental in shaping his students, and says they have learned to be resilient in the pursuit of their All-State goals.

“This is the first time in Tompkins’ history to have a male student earn a seat in an All-State Choir,” says Reinartz. “This year we have THREE!”

The trio of Tompkins male voices include seniors Jackson Baker, tenor 1, 6th chair All-State Tenor/Bass Choir, Alejandro Caprile, tenor 1, 5th chair All-State Mixed Choir, and John (Colton) Lummus, bass 1, 6th chair All-State Tenor/Bass Choir.

The fourth representative for Tompkins HS was junior Natalia Orozco, alto 1, 6th chair All-State Treble Choir.


Paetow High School

Young Program on the Rise

Henry Windham, Director of Choir at Paetow High School, says the All-State process has helped his students grow their vocal ability and push them out of their comfort zone.

Karimme L. Bautista represented Paetow HS as the 5th chair, soprano 2 in the All-State Mixed Choir. The senior says she practiced an hour a day for each level of the competition and cherished the companionship and camaraderie during the process.

“Working alongside with these people has helped me be more confident and has allowed me to grow as an individual,” says Bautista.

“Paetow HS Choirs are rapidly growing and achieving high standards as the premier choral program in Katy ISD," says Windham. "The program utilizes the effectiveness of music education as a cultural platform to inspire artistry and equip students to reach their full potential.”


For more information about the mission of the Texas Music Educators Association, or for full results of the TMEA All-State process, visit their website here.


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