Souderton set to host the PMEA Choral Festival

In preparation for hosting the annual PMEA Choral Festival, several students have auditioned to participate. The festival will take place on February 28.


Arrowhead Photo by James Baker

Falalalala…Preparing for the upcoming PMEA choral festival in February, (from left) choral students Kacie Watkins, Mason Miller, Jackson Rohrbaugh, and Anna Roman practice.

Due to their passion for choral singing, students have rehearsed to audition for the PMEA District 11 Choral Festival. This year, the event is being held at Souderton, for students across the county to attend. 

Choral Director Jon Timmons is “very excited” to be able to present this year’s festival. According to Timmons, a different school hosts the event each year. 

Timmons explains the process of choosing the hosts as a “rotation.”

 “Basically every 10 years your school is up, so you’re expected to host,” Timmons said.

This year, the District Choral festival will be on February 28 with auditions that went from November 19-22. Timmons has selected 14 students to compete for a spot in the festival at the auditions. 

These students are Kacie Watkins, Jamie Alderfer, Ally Lemon, Felicia Cappiello, Anya Hradnansky, Sophia Callahan, Grace Holly, Sarah Thomas, Daniel Micsion, Jackson Rohrbaugh, Joey Beck, Cayden Johnson, Mason Miller, and James Baker.

After finding out about Souderton hosting the District 11 Choral Festival, senior Kacie Watkins began to prepare. 

“I’m so excited,” Watkins said. “It’s great to be able to share our building and the joy that we have for our school with other people.” Watkins has sung in the festival for the past two years.

PMEA stands for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. According to, “The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a statewide nonprofit organization of over 4,000 members, dedicated to promoting the musical development of all Pennsylvanians.”

Promoting and supporting the quality of music education is an important factor in their mission statement. They additionally highlight music learning and performance.

The District 11 Choir Festival is “a very elite group,” Watkins said. The festival is made up of the top 20 young singers from each choral part in Montgomery and Bucks county.  

“District Choir is for the kids who are really gung-ho, very talented with a lot of work ethic,” Timmons said. 

In order for PMEA to determine which students get to participate in the festival, they first have to conduct an audition. 

Timmons, who is also a former PMEA judge, explains that in order to get into districts, students need to have confidence during their audition, “If pitches and rhythms aren’t there, then you’re just out for me,” Timmons said. 

Timmons also emphasizes the importance of  “vowels, dynamics, articulation, diction, phrasing, and expression.” 

Nick Marateo, the first person in Souderton history to make it to the national choir, also agrees that confidence is a big key to succeeding in your audition.

 “It takes quite a bit of hard work,” Marateo said. “Sticking to practicing your repertoire and unfortunately working on your sight-reading skills are key.”
Marateo, having made it to Nationals, knows what it takes to pass an audition. The National Association for Music Educators (NAME) is the most competitive and elite high school choral program in the country.

Throughout his experience, Marateo’s favorite part was “being able to meet and talk to people from all over the country while only spending four days together. It feels like you accomplish so much. It’s something I definitely won’t take for granted,” Marateo said.

Alumni Owen Hershberger also made it to nationals. Hershberger is an aspiring music educator.

Hershberger was very grateful for his time spent in PMEA, “Looking back on high school during all my four years there, the PMEA festivals, whether it be Districts, Regionals or States. Where some of the most fun I’ve had in those years,” Hershberger said.

While District Choir is meant to challenge students, many find that the real benefits from the program are the people and connections you can make throughout the experience. 

 “First of all, you’re going with friends from your school, so you get to bond with other people from your choir more throughout that trip, and on top of that, you get to meet people that are from other schools,” Hershberger said.

The main purpose of the festival is to hold a large-scale event for people that share passions. “The neat thing is that everyone shares a common passion which is music, specifically singing,” Hershberger said.

This year, for the District Chorus, Timmons selected York College associate professor of music Grace Muzzo to conduct. “I chose her because she was the first person in my adult life that I felt truly believed in my musicianship, particularly as a conductor, and encouraged me,” Timmons said.