by Cori Hilsgen
St. John’s Prep ninth-grade student Jack Skahen not only loves to sing, but he is also very good at it.
He was recently selected 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 he has been chosen for the honor that recognizes outstanding young Minnesota choral musicians.
Skahen has been a member of the St. John’s Boys’ Choir since fifth grade. This is his last year with the choir.
“My favorite part about being in the Boys’ Choir is being able to share beautiful music with others and traveling the world,” Skahen said in a press release. “Being accepted to the Honor Choir is a big deal to me because I know so many people try out for it and not everyone gets in. I am looking forward to the performance in February.”
He auditioned for the choir under the direction of St. John’s Boys’ Choir Director Andrè Heywood. At school, he sings under the direction of David Paulson.
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.
Skahen was one of five St. John’s Boys’ Choir members selected for the Grade 9/10 Honor Choir. Carter Trombley and Dolan Binder of Sartell, Dean Rothstein of Cold Spring and Alexis Martinez Mejia of Annandale were also selected.
This is Trombley’s third consecutive selection and Binder’s second. Both also sing in the Nova Voce Young Men’s Ensemble and are in their seventh season with the St. John’s Boys’ Choir.
Skahen has traveled to various states and Ireland, and plans to travel to Spain and France this year with the choir.
“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 hundreds of auditions across the state.
More than 2,400 students audition each year for placement into the honor choir program. About 830 students are selected.
Heywood has served as both a judge for the auditions and as a conductor of the Honor Choir.
“Jack has been an outstanding singer through(out) his entire tenure with the St. John’s Boys’ Choir,” Heywood said. “He has represented St. John’s Boys’ Choir for three consecutive years in the Minnesota Honor Choir. He has been a featured soloist at many of our performances. In this, his final year with the choir, he is part of our Nova Voce Young Men’s Ensemble – the newest St. John’s Boys’ Choir ensemble, but for the oldest boys. Nova Voce serves young men in grades seven-nine whose voices have recently changed (lowered).”
Besides singing, Skahen’s musical talents include playing the trombone. He also plays soccer, participates in Knowledge Bowl and enjoys photography.
Skahen is the son of Jennifer and Sean Skahen of St. Joseph. He has two sisters, Brenna and Caitlin; and two brothers, Tom and Brady.
Skahen’s brothers and sisters also play instruments, sing and participate in theater.
Jennifer and Sean Skahen own Sunset Manufacturing in St. Joseph, a sheet metal-fabrication company that manufactures many dairy industry products.
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.