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Top Hastings show choir starts its season with a clean sweep in Iowa

The 2016 Hastings High School show choir season picked up right where it left off in 2015 -- by winning.

At the season’s first competition on Saturday in Ankeny, Iowa, the school’s top show choir had a clean sweep of awards. The choir won Grand Champion, Best Band, Best Choreography and Best Vocals at the Mid-Iowa Show Choir Championship.

“It’s just amazing,” director Lin Warren said. “It used to be, early on in these competitions, people were just getting their shows together. Things were sloppy and not always very well sung. We figured out that if we could be ahead of the game and go to these first competitions as polished as possible, we’d have a good chance of placing in the top tier. Everyone else has figured that out, too. The shows were just so strong on Saturday. Everyone was just so strong. It was almost like a middle or end of a show choir season.”

The main competition at the meet for Hastings was the show choir from Waukee, Iowa, which is just outside of Des Moines. They had won best vocals at every competition for the past four years and Hastings was able to edge them out this time around.

“Ultimately, it was so close that the final scores in vocals for Waukee and Hastings were tied,” Warren said. “They used the vocal scores from prelims to determine the tiebreaker. We had scored higher in vocals in prelims.”

Waukee finished in second behind Hastings for the overall title, too.

This year’s show is about creation, imagination and invention, Warren said. In one number, the boys in the group sing the song “Weird Science” while wearing goggles and lab coats. In another, the girls sing “Reinvent Yourself” the theme song from the show Nip/Tuck. Another song they use is called “So Let Us Create,” an obscure clip they found on YouTube.

“The show builds from beginning to end, and it closes strong,” Warren said. “It’s really a hard thing to get a show that closes strong. If you peak too soon in a show choir set, it’s hard to maintain that. It really builds nicely. This is the first year we haven’t had to rewrite things. We haven’t had a closer like this – we’ve usually had to try to rewrite it to make it better.”

Warren said a real strength of the show are the various “tonal colors” that are present.

“The show has a lot of different styles of songs in it,” he said. “That allows you to see a lot of different tonal colors. Everything from really classic singing to vocal jazz tones. I really think that’s what separated us from Waukee. All of the groups were amazing singers. Waukee is a powerhouse vocal program. They sing everything with the same tone, and it’s beautiful, but I think it just shows a lot more versatility when you can change the color of your voice in a healthy way.”

Of course, nobody within the program knew how Saturday was going to go with it being the first show for everyone. Following the preliminary round, judges gave the group and the directors some ideas on how to strengthen the show, and many of those changes were incorporated by the time finals came around.

“I’m super proud of Riverside,” Warren said. “We took the suggestions from prelims and were able to incorporate a lot of it. Some of the changes were fairly drastic. In a 30-minute warmup from prelims to finals, they were able to address it and do it and actually accomplish what some of the judges had suggested. That’s a short amount of time to incorporate those changes. That’s a real testament to their abilities.”

Riverside Company will compete again this weekend at the Onalaska Classic in Onalaska, Wisconsin, which is near La Crosse.

All three show choirs perform together for the first time on Feb. 6 in Eau Claire, Wis.


The last sentence of this article was corrected on Jan. 13 to reflect the fact that all three choirs perform together for the first time on Feb. 6. It was previously reported that they perform together for the first time on Jan. 30.