Elsen named to all-state choir

Posted on: Oct 13, 2022

When 180 of the best high school singers in Minnesota gathered at St. John’s University over the summer months for all-state choir rehearsals, Delano senior Grace Elsen was among them. 

“When it comes to the choral and instrumental world, getting into all-state is a really huge honor,” said DHS choir director Eric Conway. “It’s very rare, very tough, to get into. To work with a collegiate professor for a week and get to create that kind of music, it is super impactful. It is an experience unlike any other.” 

Elsen, a senior, said she has been singing for as long asshe can remember. She is active in Concert Choir and Sound Revolution, as well as at church. What does she enjoy about the choral experience?

“It’s a mix of a lot of things that make it such an amazing experience and feeling,” she said. “It’s hard to describe what it feels like. The community of being in a choir is really amazing, the friends you get to make and the people you get to surround yourself with. And each individual section has its notes and parts, and then you put it together and hear that harmony and blend, and that never gets old. Music is all these individual puzzle pieces and then you put it together and it’s so seamless and gorgeous.”

To qualify for all-state, Elsen had to submit a recording of one song of her choice, along with a required song and a scale. She was chosen for the all-girls ensemble of about 60 members. (The three all-state choirs also include one all-boys choir and one mixed choir of boys and girls).

The camp experience at St. John’s had choir members living in the dorms, eating in the cafeteria and gathering for rehearsals with their director, Dr. Rosephanye Powell of Auburn University in Alabama.

“She was phenomenal,” said Elsen. “She made it a life-changing experience with her talent and expertise.”

The best part was the first rehearsal when the singers heard their parts come together for the first time.

“That was the most magical moment for me,” said Elsen. “We had all been practicing on our own for a couple of months, but then all the most talented singers in the state were there together in one room and we put all the notes together and made those beautiful chords and harmonies. That was the moment where I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is so cool.’”

Elsen and the all-state choirs will perform a mid-winter concert at Orchestra Hall in February. In the meantime, she remains a standout performer for the Delano ensembles.

“Grace is a consistent pro. She understands what it takes to do well on things and she puts in so much extra effort,” said Conway. “All the other students view her as a good example of how to act – how to practice and prep and prepare in our rehearsals and our concerts. So having someone like Grace be part of this program has been really, really special the past four years.”

Elsen has not yet chosen a college for next fall, but said she intends to study nursing while staying active in choir on the side. 

She is the daughter of Larry and Lori Elsen of Delano. 

• The last time DHS was represented with all-state choir representatives was when Emma Sorenson and Autumn Langdon made it in 2020-21.

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