The show choirs at Milton High School return after a lost year eager to perform and host more than a dozen other singing and dancing groups at Milton Rock the Rock 2022 on Jan. 22.

Octave Above and Choralation, Milton’s two show choirs, are looking forward to welcoming the other Wisconsin school choirs to their turf after last year’s Rock the Rock was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the students are pretty hungry for the experience,” said Jamison Wendlandt, choir director at Milton High School and director for Octave Above, the school’s all-girl show choir.

“They are kind of relearning what it means to do all this again, but it’s been really beneficial and fun for the kids,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun to be with them and do what they’re doing. They appreciate it for sure.”

As the hosts, Milton’s show choirs will perform at the event—Octave Above at 4:30 p.m., and Choralation at 9 p.m.—but not compete. The other 14 groups are slotted to take the stage between 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Those groups include, in order of performance, all-girl groups from Fort Atkinson (the Lexington Singers) and Sauk Prairie (YTBN); and prep division, or junior varsity, groups from Sparta (Upstage Adrenaline), Cashton (Ridgetop Revolution) and Waconia (The Current).

The competition will continue with nine mixed-gender groups: Hamilton’s Synergy, Eau Claire North’s Northernaires, Fort Atkinson’s South High Street Singers, Sauk Prairie’s Executive Session, Janesville Craig’s Spotlighters, Reedburg’s Choraliers, Monona Grove’s Silver Connection, Onalaska’s Hilltoppers and Waconia’s Power Company.

Each show choir brings a support band to play the arrangements.

“Each show choir will perform four to six songs,” said Erik Meinertz, music teacher at Milton High School and director for Choralation, the school’s mixed-gender show choir. ”Each school or group is allotted 25 minutes to perform. This includes setup, performing and teardown.”

The judges—who score each group performances based on vocals, choreography and the band accompaniment—will select the top six groups to perform again starting at 6 p.m. The grand champion and second through sixth places will then be determined. The judges will also give out awards for best choreography, best vocals, best band, best crew, best female soloist and male soloist.

At Milton’s Rock the Rock 2020, Waconia’s Power Company was crowned grand champion and also received awards for best vocals, choreography, band and crew.

Meinertz has had a passion for high school show choir since he was a member of the Onalaska Hilltoppers, one of the choirs performing at Rock the Rock. Meinertz started teaching at Milton in 2016.

The Milton show choir program has been around for more than 40 years. It was started by choir director Bill Schrank in 1978. He retired in 2010.

Since 1978, auditions for show choir have remained essentially the same with students required to sing and dance. Depending on the year, around 115 to 150 students audition, Meinertz said.

After the students for the show choirs are chosen, Meinertz and Wendlandt work with a choreographer and song arranger to create their shows. Rehearsals begin before the winter semester starts with competition season running from January through March. In March, the choirs learn a whole new show for their spring events.

For Wendlandt, the most important thing is for the students to enjoy the experience that comes out of their hard work.

He said Rock the Rock is also a chance for the Milton School District to showcase the recent expansion of the high school performance rooms.

“I’m excited to have (other school choirs) come see our new spaces and really be able to show off what the community has put into the school,” Wendlandt said. “We want to give these kids an opportunity to be on their home turf and have a good time. That’s what it’s all about: having fun.”

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