After a two-year break, the students beat the competition and take home best-of-show awards. 

Supplied with only their voices and determination, the West Linn High School Symphonic Choir took home the highest honor at a recent state competition.

On Saturday, May 9, the choir competed in the Oregon School Activities Association State Championship. The team sang against 23 other high school choirs from across the state and took home first place with a total score of 342. They also had the highest score of any team competing that day, along with other individual and team recognitions.

"A lot of us were in tears right after we performed, and then afterward everything is out of our control because it's a subjective art form. It's like going to an art museum and picking the best painting; it's ludicrous," said choir director Aubrey Patterson. "It's just an honor to be recognized for our musicality."

The choir competed in the competition back in 2019 — and won — but due to COVID-19 stalling the last two years, this was the first time many of the students performed on the stage. Some recent graduates who were not able to compete due to the pandemic showed up to the competition in support of their high school.

"We have worked really hard to be as musical as possible and to create an experience for ourselves and our audience that is engaging and powerful," Patterson said. "I want the high schooler to have a very high-level musical moment in their life that they can look back on for the rest of their lives, because those moments are powerful and what led me to pursue music as a career."

The choir qualified for the competition based on its high scores throughout the season. During the state championships, the high school performed Carlo Gesualdo's "Resta di Darmi Noia," Caroline Shaw's "And the Swallow," Matthew Lyon Hazzard's "The Prow," and Benny Castillon's "Kruhay." They were ranked by a series of judges on performance, song choice and other technical skills.

The students also performed in a four-part piece that they had never seen prior to the competition.

The choir began preparing for the competition in mid-March, and Patterson even secured time with Shaw, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, to help the students acclimate to the song they were performing by her.

Patterson is only the fourth female choir director in the state to take home the championship in the 6A competition.

"I'm just moved by how dedicated and musical these students are. It takes a lot of independent determination to decide to perform collegiate-level pieces as young students," Patterson said.

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