Knight in Shining Armor – Sam Krischak & Ben Ellington

Two music students were able to advance to the ILMEA State Competition for singing and for creating their own musical score.
“I was selected to perform as part of the Illinois All-State Honors Chorus, which means I auditioned at the regional level a few months ago and scored high enough to be in the state level choir. I was actually the highest scoring Bass 1 in the entire district based on an audition of two selections from choir songs, a sight reading section, and a tonal skills section (scales & triads). This is one of the biggest honors a choral singer can receive at the high school level, so it was very meaningful to me,” said junior Sam Krischak.
While Krischak’s award came through the aspect of choir, Ellington’s award was gained through an original song written for band that was then submitted for scoring.
“Last year, I composed an instrumental song for concert band and submitted it to the ILMEA composition contest. My song won second place in the Large Ensemble category. I am very proud and excited by this award because it means that, as of now, I am the second best student composer of Large Ensemble in Illinois,” Ellington said over a text interview.
Krischak and Ellington both had different ways they obtained the awards and different ways of how they felt toward getting the award.
“To be able to perform with this choir was one of the most impactful honors I have received in my life. Choral music has always been one of my biggest passions, and to be able to come together with roughly 300 of the most talented singers in the state and perform some of the best choral literature I have ever sung with them was absolutely amazing,” Krischak said. “I honestly can’t think of a place where I’d be happier than in that room rehearsing with the choir and coming together to make beautiful music for hours at a time, and while I came home exhausted, I simultaneously felt immensely inspired and refreshed filled with a love for choral music that I had not previously felt.”
While there were different ways that both Ellington and Krischak prepared themselves, they both knew that they would need to be ready for the moment when they auditioned and submitted their work. Krischak, in particular, knew that the years of prior training were one of the key aspects of helping him get to where he is today.
“My preparation for this honestly goes back as far as sixth grade when I first joined choir as the audition was an amalgamation of all of the skills I have learned over the years. But specifically the most direct preparation I had was auditioning last year and performing only at the district level and the work I put into it this year. At the beginning of the school year, I began to prepare a selection of songs, and then two weeks before, when we knew which songs they were, focused exclusively on two songs: ‘Sicut Cervus’, which was the same song everyone in the state prepared, and ‘Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal’, prepared by everyone in the district,” Krischak said. “I also worked a lot on my scales and triads as you don’t know which ones you’ll have to do prior to the audition so I had to perfect all of them to prepare for the state choir performance itself. I left on Wednesday for Peoria and spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning rehearsing for a total of 20 hours with the choir and our conductor, Dr. Kimberly Adams from Western Michigan University, over those three days.”