Singing for Brainerd High School senior Ashley Widmark is more than just words coming out of her mouth.
When Widmark sings she focuses on the words and what they mean, which makes her feel closer to the subject on a more spiritual level.
Widmark, vice president of the BHS A Cappella Choir and a member of Windfall, Smith Sisters and the Minnesota All-State Women's Choir, was named Fine Arts Student of the Week. She also has been involved in concert chorale and a women's select ensemble group.
Widmark has been in choir since fourth grade, when she sang in the alto section. In seventh grade she sang soprano because her friend did. In ninth grade, she and a friend tried out for Bravo, a small choir group of eighth- and ninth-graders, as a joke.
"I made it but my friend didn't," said Widmark. "It was a really cool experience to be with people who can sing. I was like, 'We sound pretty good.' It was fun."
As a junior, Widmark made a cappella choir and was happy and relieved. Now she is the alto section leader. Widmark likes to sing alto because of its dark, female tone.
Being in a cappella choir is becoming a family tradition for Widmark. Her dad was in a cappella choir for three years, as were her two aunts. Her two younger sisters are also in choir.
Art focus: BHS A Cappella Choir
Art activities: A cappella choir, Windfall and Smith Sisters
Favorite subjects: Advanced Placement music theory and AP art history
Most memorable fine arts achievement: All-State Women's Choir
Artist most admired: Ben Folds
Favorite movie: "The Princess Diaries" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"
Favorite TV program: "Scrubs" and "Will and Grace"
Favorite song: "Wonderwall" by Oasis
Parents: Chuck and Karen Widmark of Brainerd
The BHS A Cappella Choir had its mid-winter concert Monday at Tornstrom Auditorium at Washington Middle School. Three high school choirs and the Fifth-Grade Honors Choir, along with a guest conductor from St. Cloud State University, performed. All the choirs sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Songs a cappella choir sang included "Sleep" and "Little Potato."
Now the choir is working on its spring pop concert, which will include singing and dancing.
Windfall will perform "Footloose" and will dress in 1980s attire. Widmark said the group first planned a 1950s medley, but after rehearsing the group of students decided to perform "Footloose."
Widmark competed in the solo and ensemble contest in February and sang "Pur dicesti, o bocca bella," an Italian song. This was one of Widmark's favorite songs she has sung in the contest the past three years. She heard another girl sing it at Minnesota All-State one year and she liked it. Widmark said the song is light and fun and it works with her voice.
Widmark sang one solo in a concert in ninth grade, "Monday, Monday." She has tried out for solos in the past, but never got them. However, she is working on a duet for the spring concert called "It's Written in the Stars."
Outside of a cappella choir, Widmark sings the national anthem at sporting events and has sung at nursing homes.
Songs with six or eight music parts, with one section singing the melody, are songs Widmark likes to sing best. She likes how all the sounds come together. She does not like to sing classical songs or songs with the piano.
Widmark takes private voice lessons, as well as lessons at the school to improve. She also practices at home when she has time. Widmark said the hard work she puts into her singing is one of her strongest qualities. She said she needs to work on memorizing song lyrics and having the same tone throughout a song.
Widmark plans to attend Luther College to major in music education or music performance. She also plans to get a teacher's license for a job as a music director.
"I'd really like to perform or make CDs or be on Broadway," said Widmark. "I love to be on stage or even be in a traveling choir."
Widmark said it all depends on how her voice grows through the years and how much work she puts into it.
When asked whether she would try out for the television show "American Idol," she said: "People tell me I should try out. If they came to Brainerd I would. I wouldn't drive more than 15 minutes to try out."
Widmark said the television show airs either really good or really bad singers and nothing in between. She said she fits with the average singers that America does not see on the show.
Kristi Takasaki, sophomore, Drawing I: Takasaki's drawing adviser said, "Kristi has distinguished herself in Drawing I coursework with her close attention to drawing objectives. She has such a positive attitude in class each day. Her drawing reflects her enthusiastic nature."
Jeff Sands, senior, Symphonic Band: Sands is a member of Symphonic Band, where he is a euphonium section leader. He has received superior ratings at the solo and ensemble contest.
Samantha Dockter, senior, mock trial: The mock trial adviser said, "Samantha was a key witness in this year's mock trial. She played her part with tenacity. She also played a lawyer at practice helping to fine-tune the team for competition."
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