Carroll High School students who participated in All-State Festival Chorus auditions on Oct. 22 at Atlantic are (seated) Sara Sweeney and Grant Meiners; (standing, from left) Zach Shook, Grace McCartan, Parker Anderson and Abbie Espenhover. Sweeney, a senior, and Meiners, a junior, were named to the Chorus for their fourth and third times, respectively, in their high-school careers.
Carroll High School students who participated in All-State Festival Chorus auditions on Oct. 22 at Atlantic are (seated) Sara Sweeney and Grant Meiners; (standing, from left) Zach Shook, Grace McCartan, Parker Anderson and Abbie Espenhover. Sweeney, a senior, and Meiners, a junior, were named to the Chorus for their fourth and third times, respectively, in their high-school careers.

November 2, 2016

Sara Sweeney became Carroll High School’s sixth four-year all-state musician in the last 15 years when she was selected at All-State Festival Chorus auditions on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Atlantic.

Sweeney was one of six CHS students who auditioned. Also selected all-state was CHS junior Grant Meiners, who gained that honor for the third time.

Sweeney joins the list of the following CHS four-year all-staters: Dusty Heino, 1998-2001; Erica Doud, 2005-2008; Kelsey Duhrkopf, 2005-2008; Nick Schumacher, 2009-2012; and Abby Murrane, 2010-2013. Sweeney is a daughter of Doug and Joan Sweeney of Carroll.

Her dad is the Carroll High School and Middle School vocal music director, while her mom is Glidden-Ralston vocal music director. Sara follows in the footsteps of her half sister, Erica Doud, in gaining four-year honors.

Sweeney was selected an alto for the 601-member All-State Festival Chorus, and Meiners, son of Alan and Tami Meiners of Dedham, will sing bass.

All-state selection is the highest individual honor available to Iowa high-school musicians. In addition to the chorus, there is a 201-piece orchestra and 281-piece band.

Approximately 17 percent of the students who audition are selected for membership in the All-State ensembles.

The 2016 Festival will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the event. Participants will rehearse in Ames on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18 and 19, and the Festival Concert will be presented to the public at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State University, Ames. Iowa Public Television will record the concert for rebroadcast. The All-State program is under the auspices of the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa Music Educators Association.

Other CHS students who auditioned were sophomores Parker Anderson, tenor, son of Randy and Vicki Anderson of Carroll; Grace McCartan, alto, daughter of Dennis and Ann McCartan of Carroll; Zach Shook, tenor, son of Michelle Shook of Halbur; and junior Abbie Espenhover, alto, all-state last year, daughter of Tom and Julie Espenhover of Carroll.

CHS director Doug Sweeney commented on his singers, “Students auditioning did a fantastic job. I am so very proud of how they developed and grew through the process of preparing for the auditions. Grace McCartan and Abbie Espenhover sang impeccably. They just did not accept many alto II’s from our site. Zach Shook is definitely the most-improved singer I have ever worked with over my many years of teaching. He learned to listen to advice instead of making excuses and was one of the few tenors recalled for another chance at being accepted into the All-State Chorus. Parker saw a lot of growth and improvement over the past few months as he prepared for the audition.”

He said of the all-staters, “Grant and Sara are both very fine, natural musicians and are also willing to work and listen to improve on those innate abilities. They both learn music very quickly and are able to start making music very early in the process instead of just learning notes for many weeks. Both have very mature, wonderfully resonant, clear and warm tones. Both are very deserving because of the extra amount of time they are willing to put into the process. All-state music in no way a gift; it is earned through many extra hours of hard work.

“Being selected as an all-state musician once is in itself is a huge honor, more than once is fantastic. At last year’s All-State concert when they recognized the four-year vocalists there were at the most 10 out of the 600 singers that had the opportunity to sing in the All-State Chorus all four years.”

Sweeney credited Roger Hansen and Ellen Severin, previous Carroll Community Schools music teachers, with helping establishing a foundation for music success in the district.

Sweeney said the district’s records from 1961-1987 indicate 88 CHS students were accepted in All-State.

Sweeney arrived at Carroll High School in 1988, and since then 150 CHS students have been named all-state. Nancy Davis has been vocal-music accompanist since 1988.