Three choir students from Gunter High School will perform at the Texas Small School All-State Choir Concert next month.

Texas had more than 72,000 choir students competing at the start of the school year, but just 1,780 students will perform at the state level, including Gunter High students junior Kara Curtis, senior Austin Rue and sophomore Hailey Wilde, in San Antonio on Feb. 16 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center as part of the 2019 Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention.

To get to this point, the students first had to perform selected music for a panel of judges who ranked each instrument or voice part in one of 33 TMEA regions. From that ranking, students advanced to compete in eight area competitions and the highest-ranking students there qualified to perform at the state level.

Choir Director Elizabeth Kulbeth said the students worked really hard to achieve this level of success.

“These outstanding musicians reached the high goal as a choir member,” Kulbeth said. “What started out as over 5000 students in the state of Texas came down to 112 students in the state. It is a great honor for these students to achieve this goal. I’m extremely proud to be a small part of what they accomplished.”

This will be the second time Curtis was chosen to the All-State Choir. She said she started out the year with a determination to do whatever it took to get back.

“I am really excited to be going back,” Curtis said. “When you sing in the state choir, the walls vibrate with the noise. I am excited to go back and have that experience again.”

Curtis said she took all criticism and advice to heart, using the advice of everyone she could in order to become the best singer she could. She even started ahead of the choir camp held in August.

“I stared working early — I started in June to get ready for the first round,” Curtis said. “I always listen to the advice of people given it to me. I am not singing my way but the way others like.”

She also said she practices every day of the week after school. For Curtis, finding this passion was almost a happy accident as she took a choir class in eighth grade to fulfill a requirement. One day after class, her teacher pulled her aside and told her she had the talent to be in the state choir. That prompted her to put in the work to get selected for the state choir, something she gets to share with two classmates this year.

Rue said he’s had mixed emotions about his first time going to the All-State Choir.

“I was nervous at the competition but now I am really excited,” Rue said. “I have heard it is a really cool experience. Once I found out I was going, I got really excited.”

Rue has been singing since he was in middle school, where he also played the guitar. He said music is very important to him and he’s worked really hard to get where he is.

“I practice every day,” Rue said. “Whenever I would find something I could improve on, I would focus on that. I learned to push myself to do it right every time.”

His advice to upcoming choir members is to practice site reading every day. He said that’s the biggest challenge at the competition.

Wilde said the competition to get chosen for the All-State Choir brought her to tears.

“I was really hard to get here, it was very stressful,” Wilde said. “It took over an hour to get the results back. It was very nerve-racking.”

She said the competition was hard and she was thrilled to be included in the process.

“I play music non-stop, until I get it in my head,” Wilde said. “I sing it with other people to hear how I can improve.”

Wilde said she also practiced multiple times a week and began preparing last summer.

“I am looking forward to learning the musical techniques and enjoying the experience,” Wilde said.