Senior Erica Ferguson Makes Maryland All-State Chorus for Third Year

While most students have no idea what they want to do after college, senior Erica Ferguson is already steps ahead in her pursuit to someday sing in an opera house.

After her audition on Nov. 24 at Urbana High School in Frederick County, Ferguson made the 2014 Maryland All State Women’s Chorus, sponsored by the Maryland Music Educators Association (MMEA). This will be Ferguson’s third year participating in an All State Chorus as she sang for the All State Mixed Chorus for the past two years. To qualify for Senior All State auditions, students must be in grades 10, 11 or 12, take a music class at a Maryland high school and be referred by their music teacher.

The rigorous auditions consist of rhythmic and melodic sight reading, where singers are given new sheet music that they must immediately sing without piano help. Students also sing an accompanied piece in addition to memorizing an acappella piece.

“The past two years, I bombed the sight reading and I still made it,” Ferguson said. “But this year, I’m in the IB music class and with the help of Mr. Johnson, I learned how to sight read.”

Hundreds of high school students across the state tried out for the numerous choruses, and only 150 girls made the All State Women’s Chorus. After making All State band, strings or choral group, students participate in an All State weekend. The All State Women’s Chorus will get together in Baltimore from Feb. 20-23 to practice for three days straight, followed by a group performance of eight songs. All chorus members get tested on the first day to make sure they know their music and if not, they are sent home.

Ferguson has been preparing for choral opportunities like this for years as she started taking voice lessons in seventh grade. Later, Ferguson started taking voice lessons at the Levine School of Music in grade 11 and was granted scholarships for both grades 11 and 12. Currently, Ferguson is in an honors program where she takes two weekly voice lessons and a music theory class. Being in the honors program also allows Ferguson to work with a classical guitarist and coach at Strathmore.

At RHS, Ferguson has a very musically focused schedule, taking chorus, piano and IB music class, in addition to singing for the jazz band. Ferguson is the president of chorus as she has taken it all four years, plus this is her second year taking piano.

“Because of Erica’s ability to be self-motivated, there is a force from within that drives her skills and abilities to want to do well in life,” said Director of Vocal and Choral Activities Ronald Johnson. “I am extremely proud of Erica because she reminds me of some of my most talented students; however, she knows she has years to see the real results.”

Although Ferguson’s main goal is to sing in an opera house, she has expanded her musical abilities by performing in RHS musicals “Cinderella” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” Ferguson will play the lead role of Belle in the RHS spring musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Ferguson applied to eight music colleges including music conservatories to further prepare her for her already sucessful opera career.

“My biggest goal when I perform is to evoke emotion in the audience. It’s not all about the glory of the applause, it’s about the ability to touch someone,” Ferguson said.