Park City High School junior Max O’Reilly has been accepted into the 240-voice All-National Honor Ensembles mixed choir
Park City High School junior Max O’Reilly will represent Park City when he performs with the National Association for Music Education 2019 All-National Honor Ensembles mixed choir this weekend at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
The baritone, who will leave Park City on Thursday and perform Saturday night, said he is “incredibly lucky” to be one of the 240 vocalists selected for the choir.
“I’m excited to go down to Florida and perform with such gifted kids,” he said.
The performance, which will be conducted by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, the conductor of the Viking Chorus and the Chapel Choir at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), one of the world’s largest arts-education nonprofits, focuses on the different branches of music education at the local, state and national levels.
O’Reilly had to audition a few months ago to get into the All-National Choir.
“They gave me measures 10 to 22 from some Latin song to sing,” he said. “To this day, I have no idea what song it was.”
In addition, they asked him to perform another piece of his own choosing – ‘Danny Boy.’
“It’s a song that I’ve been singing since I was in sixth grade,” he said. “It’s a song that I know and it’s a sweet thing that just comes to me.”
O’Reilly, who has performed with the Utah All-State Honors Choir for the past three years, and has performed in Europe with the Utah Ambassadors of Music, said his path to the All-National Honor Choir started at home.
“I grew up in a musical family,” he said. “My brother and I have played piano since we were very young, and my mom is a singer.”
That familiarity with music led O’Reilly to the Park City High School choir, where he first met its director, Christin Abbott.
“He was very enthusiastic about music,” Abbott said. “It was something he enjoyed doing.”
Throughout the years, Abbott has seen O’Reilly hone his vocal skills.
“He has a great ear for music, and his tuning is always spot on,” she said. “He knows if there’s something wrong, and he knows how to fix it.”
O’Reilly, who most recently performed in the Utah Music Educators Association All-State Choir last month, said he has learned a lot about music and performance from Abbott.
“Having worked with her for a long time, she’s helped me hone in on what I should do to strengthen and improve my voice,” he said. “She’s also the one who has given me these wonderful opportunities, and that has given me confidence to really show that I can do with music.”
Abbott, who recommended O’Reilly to the All-National Choir, said this weekend’s performance has been a goal for them both.
“He is my first one of my students getting accepted to All National Choir, and it’s a new experience for me, Park City High School and for Max,” she said.
Music has always been a safe place for O’Reilly, who also takes voice lessons from JoAnna Odom at the Utah Conservatory.
“It was something I could always go to when I wanted to feel calm and happy,” he said. “It’s just fun for me to hear good choir music.”
Still, O’Reilly, who said he plans to continue performing through college, doesn’t think music will become his livelihood.
“I don’t really see myself in the future going into a profession that is necessarily involved in music or choir,” he said. “I just see it as something I can go and do when I want to be happy, and it’s something that I will keep in the back of my mind as my life goes on.”
In the meanwhile, O’Reilly said he needs to take care of his voice.
“I’ll do that by drinking lots of water, singing a lot and not yelling,” he said. “And I always need to remember to stay in my vocal range.”
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