Ella Grier Represents Dominion at the National American Choral Directors Association


Lilly Cameron

Ella Greer posed next to her artwork at Evening with the Arts where she performed with Titan Singers Choir.

The first ever National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) choir delegate from Dominion High School, Ella Greer, was selected to perform with 306 other high schoolers nationwide in the SSAA High School Honor Choir in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 25th. 

The choir prepared six pieces in the course of the four day long conference, and rehearsals ranged from three to over six hours each day. “Having that constant singing really had you make sure you were not overusing your voice, eating well [and] hydrating,” Greer said.

Greer first started singing for an audience in seventh grade with the Drama Club. “I didn’t take choir at all in middle school. I wanted to but I just didn’t have room [in my schedule] because I took violin, but I joined choir my freshman year, and I’ve stayed in it ever since,” she said.

Since Freshman year, Greer has been involved in All-District Choir, All-County Choir, and now the National High School Honor Choir. Choir teacher My-Van Nguyen, who has been Greer’s teacher for four years, said, “I’m so proud of Ella, auditioning for this choir took a lot of independent work and motivation. I was really proud that she even went through the audition, because it’s really competitive, so when she made it in, that was even more exciting.”

Associate Director and Conference Liaison of ACDA, Brent Ballweg, said 712 students applied for the choir. “Consider your All-State Choir. Then an All-Region Choir. This was a National Honor Choir. I’d call it pretty selective and quite an honor,” he said.

According to Greer, the audition for the choir itself consisted of two prepared pieces and a sight reading section in order to “accurately showcase that you can sight read well enough.” Everything was submitted online; “they weren’t videotapes of my face, it was just a vocal recording so there would be no bias,” Greer said. 

Nyugen attributes Ella’s success to her “maturity and her vocal skills.” Four years of high school choir and COVID “sort of taught independence and [that she] has to do the work on [her] own,” Nguyen said.

From Wednesday to Friday during the conference, the choir practiced “essentially all day,” with each rehearsal block ranging from one hour to three hours long, according to Greer. “You would have blocks of time where you’d be in the rehearsal room, and then you would have, halfway through those blocks of time, a 15 minute break … and then you’d come back after lunch and do it again,” she said.  

According to Nyugen, she tends to “focus more on local honor choirs” due to the lengthy audition experience and travel expenses of the National Honor Choir. “ I’m glad that Ella pursued this opportunity, because it sort of opened my eyes to how valuable it was. I mean, it’s just far and away better than even an All State experience, so I think I will encourage more students to audition in the future,” Nguyen said.

Conducted by Dr. Pearl Shangkuan, ACDA National President-Elect, the choir performed five out of the six pieces they prepared during the week. The program included two world premieres;  Siyaphambili by Denise Onen and Trisagion by Iryna Aleksiychuk which was commissioned specifically for the choir. 

The Ukrainian composer, Aleksiychuk, wrote Trisagion about “how the war has ravaged Ukraine” Greer said. Getting a visa to attend the concert was a challenge for Aleksiychuk; “she had asked for her ambassador to advocate for her and she got there barely in time. I thought that was such a memorable and inspiring thing to do,” Greer said.

Also being a part of Titan Theatre, Greer is pursuing a performing arts education in college. “I never imagined when I started choir back in freshman year that I’d make it this far, but singing with all of them, and being able to talk to them, to all my fellow choir members–was interesting. It was interesting, because you’re never going to be in that same choir ever again. Not with the same people, not in the same setting,” she said. 

“I feel like I came back a better singer than I was when I left for sure,” Greer said.