Babbit again represents Shaler Area state level choral ensemble


Cassidy Laffey

The Pennsylvania Music Education Association (PMEA) holds a musical festival for high school students each year, and being chosen to participate is one of the greatest accomplishments for a student. Students from all over Pennsylvania audition with the hopes of making it into this prestigious, state-level ensemble, but very few succeed. This is not the case for Zoe Babbit, a senior at Shaler Area, who made it through three rounds of auditions and got to participate as  a member of Pennsylvania Music Educator’s State Level Choral Ensemble.

PMEA promotes music education and performance through musical showcases and festivals. Babbit participated in PMEA States her sophomore year, but it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. This year was completely changed from prior years because of the virtual format.

After being given excerpts of songs, students interested in auditioning recorded an audio file performing the piece. Babbit continued on after the first audition and had to prepare another. In a typical year, those who made it past the first round of auditions came together for a PMEA Districts Festival, however, Districts did not happen because of COVID-19.

“I was overjoyed because it was the same week I found out I got into my top pick for college, and those were the two things I was waiting for,” Babbit said.

Shaler Area High School Choir Director, Mrs. Kristin Tepshich, has been training Babbit in Honors Chamber Choir since her freshman year, and is proud of all she has accomplished.

“It is very well deserved because of her dedication, talent, and motivation. Having those three pillars makes an astounding performer. She has all three and seeing her get that gratification makes you as a choir director just so, so proud.” Tepshich said.

Once Babbit finally completed the rigorous auditions, it was time to start preparing for the actual festival. Typically, PMEA States is a long weekend where students from all over Pennsylvania come together and sing a choral arrangement, but just like everything else this year, it looked completely different.

“It was a bunch of Zoom screens trying to sing a song together, but muted, and me not knowing where we were in the music. Our director had a lizard that she showed on camera, and it was the real star of the show,” Babbit said.

When asked what her favorite part of the experience was, she was quick to mention the lizard, but after further consideration, she said, “Even though it was different, I did still really appreciate the opportunity to enrich myself in new music and I even got to meet the composer of the song!”

Everyone involved in PMEA States sent in their audio recordings of their individual part for the final performance, which will soon be edited together to sound like they performed together.