by Cori Hilsgen
St. John’s Prep School ninth-grade students Dolan Binder and Carter Trombley are vocalists who were recently chosen by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota Honor Choir to participate in the State 9-10 Boys’ Honor Choir.
This is the third year Trombley has been selected and the second year Binder has been chosen for the honor that recognizes outstanding young Minnesota choral musicians. Both boys have been members of the St. John’s Boys’ Choir since third grade.
Binder is the son of Annette and Harvey Binder. Annette said he has been singing with his family all of his life. His third-grade music teacher recommended he audition for the St. John’s Boys’ Choir.
Binder’s choir journey began with that audition, and Annette said auditioning for the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota Honor Choir seemed like a natural thing for him to do.
He auditioned last year as an eighth-grader and was accepted at that time.
“He thoroughly enjoyed that experience and was even asked to audition for one of the solo parts that year,” Annette said. “Being accepted a second year is a great honor and Dolan is excited to work with and learn from new directors once again.”
Binder has enjoyed his experience in choir and honor choir.
“It is a huge commitment, but he loves the opportunity to work with new conductors and to meet other choir members,” Annette said. “He has made lifelong friendships, been able to travel to new places and is looking forward to expanding his choral knowledge and voice in the future.”
Both parents said they are very proud of Binder and his musical accomplishments.
Although, he is not always comfortable getting up in front of people, Annette said, his choir experiences have been great confidence-builders and a positive influence in his life. Through these experiences, he has grown as a musician and a person.
“We live in an area with so many wonderful musical opportunities for boys, and we feel so blessed Dolan has been able to be a part of many of them,” Annette said.
Trombley is the son of Lisa and Greg Trombley of Sartell.
Binder and Trombley auditioned for the honor choir under the direction of St. John’s Boys’ Choir director Andrè Heywood.
The ACDA-MN organizes six honor choir projects each year to feature outstanding student talent at a variety of levels, including State 4-5-6 Boys’ and Girls,’ State 7-8 Boys’ and Girls,’ State 9-10 Women’s and State 9-10 Mixed. Each participant is required to memorize five pieces for the ACDA public performance.
Members of the St. John’s Boys’ Choir rehearse between four to 14 hours each week and perform at about 30 events each season.
Binder and Trombley were two of five boys selected for the Grade 9/10 Honor Choir from St. John’s Prep. Three other St. John’s Prep students – Jack Skahen of St. Joseph, Dean Rothstein of Cold Spring and Alexis Martinez Mejia of Annandale –were also selected.
Carter Vonderahe, a freshman at Sartell High School, was also selected to be in the Boys’ Honor Choir. This is Vonderahe’s second year for this recognition. He is in the men’s choir and jazz band at Sartell High School, takes piano lessons at Wirth School for Performing Arts, is in the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota Choir and Ensemble Choir and in the Seventh Street Ensemble and Show Choir at Sartell High. In addition, he is part of an a cappella group he founded called the Minor Seven.
Binder and Trombley sing in the Nova Voce Young Men’s Ensemble and are in their seventh season with the St. John’s Boys’ Choir.
They have traveled with the St. John’s Boys’ Choir to many states, Washington, D.C. and to Ireland. They plan to travel to Spain and France with the St. John’s Boys’ Choir summer tour.
“In addition to being excellent singers, all these boys are exceptional leaders in the St. John’s Boys’ Choir and in their school programs and, as such, are very deserving of this honor,” Heywood said.
The ACDA-MN Boys’ Honor Choir brings together about 120 of the state’s best singers in that age range. Boys are chosen from more than hundreds of auditions across the state.
More than 2,400 students audition each year for placement into the honor choir program and about 830 students are selected.
Heywood has served as both a judge for the auditions and as a conductor of the Honor Choir.
Binder plays guitar and has played the French horn in the past. He is currently teaching himself to play piano and also sings in the Sartell High School Men’s Chorus.
Binder has a twin sister, Christina, who is also musical and artistic. She loves to sing and pick on her brother.
Binder’s grandparents, Blanche and Allan Tirk of Long Prairie, are some of his biggest fans in encouraging and cheering on his musical endeavors.
The Honor Choir will perform with the State 9-10 Girls’ Honor Choir at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center’s Main Auditorium.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.