WOSWE: A choir connected


The women of WOSWE. Not pictured: Ella Sandstedt & Anna McCoy. Photo by Erin Stier.

An average day in West Ottawa Select Women’s Ensemble (WOSWE) is not like any other class offered at WO. WOSWE is an auditioned choir. Our group of 20 young women, led by instructor Erin Stier and accompanist Jennifer Florip, laugh, (sometimes) cry, rehearse advanced-level music, and form relationships we’ll cherish throughout our high school careers and beyond. One of the best aspects of WOSWE is the togetherness. 

   The women in our group are very dedicated to improving their skill, and we all lift each other up. If there were ever a problem, everyone would be very thoroughly committed to communicating with one another and moving forward in their musical journeys. 

   Months of hard work lead up to February’s District Choral Festival, where area schools perform two pieces of music for a panel of judges and sight read exercises they’ve never seen before. In the end, each choir receives a number score out of 120. This year, WOSWE received a perfect score at District Choral Festival. Along with Choral Festival, there is Solo and Ensemble. WOSWE has the honor of attending Solo and Ensemble every year because we are an advanced, auditioned ensemble. At Solo and Ensemble, we sing two pieces and receive feedback from a single judge. WOSWE received a First Division Rating and advanced to State Solo and Ensemble. 

   With another month comes another competition. This March, WOSWE attended State Solo and Ensemble at Allendale High School. There, we sang one song we had been practicing and a new piece. We received 119 out of 120 points, making us the highest scoring choir of the entire event. 

   Because of our musical excellence, we were chosen to attend the All-State Festival. There are State Solo and Ensemble sites in a few other places in Michigan. So, this means that because of our excellence, we were chosen as the one choir to represent the West Site of Michigan at the All-State Festival. In simpler words, we found out that we’re the top choir in West Michigan. “I got super excited. I’ve had a really great time with this group of people and it’s going to be so much fun to go to All-State with them. It just feels like a really great accomplishment to finish my senior year,” Sr. Anna Mccoy said. 

   For many of us, the All-State selection came as a surprise. We know we’re good, but being confirmed that we’re the best choir in the West Michigan area was a shock. “I was so surprised that we were selected for all-state, I started sobbing happy tears in the Westshore Mall parking lot. I am so proud of our choir and feel so blessed to get to sing with these wonderful people,” Jr. Tana Haveman said.

   We started working on one of our songs in December and the other in February. “Bonny Wood Green,” the song from December, was polished and ready to go weeks before we attended State Solo and Ensemble. On the other hand, “Lilacs and Rain,” our February song, took us a long time to perfect. The week before we went to State Solo and Ensemble is when we made incredible improvement. “We worked so hard, and have improved so much through these last few months,” Jr. Lorri Deur said.

   All of our incredibly hard work certainly paid off in the best way we could’ve hoped for. WOSWE is super excited to represent West Michigan when we attend the All-State Festival in May. Soph. Sophia Brown couldn’t have worded it better, “It was such a surreal accomplishment, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of ladies to be celebrating with.”