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Donica to perform at PMEA State Chorus Festival

For the first time in recent school history, Meyersdale Area School District will have a representative in attendance at the PMEA State Choral Festival, to be held in the Poconos, in April.

Tristan Donica, a senior at Meyersdale Area High School, has been selected as First Chair in the Bass 1 section. He earned this prestigious honor through an audition process at the recently held 2020 PMEA Region III Chorus Festival held at Central Cambria High School. Donica is the son of Vicki and Travis, of Meyersdale. He has two siblings, Devin and Isabella. 

Donica said he was stunned to be selected for the State festival. 

“I never imagined I would be selected as first chair. I just knew I had to do my best and there was a lot of praying about it,” he explained. 

“When the list came out and I saw my name I was speechless, my jaw dropped to the floor and I literally did not know what to say,” he added. 

Miss Labrina Ritchey, MASD Music teacher and Choir Director, said she is thrilled for Donica and proud that he will be representing our school district. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever sent a student to States in my five years at Meyersdale. I think it’s even the first time in at least 10 years that we’ve sent anyone from MASD,” explained Miss Labrina Ritchey, MASD Music teacher and Choir Director. “Making it to the PMEA State Chorus is very competitive. Only 32 out of 176 students in Region III Chorus advance to States each year. The top four chairs of each section, Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano get to move on.”

Donica’s passion for music is relatively new and he credits the “strong” encouragement from Ritchey for his growth and success as a vocalist.  

“Miss Ritchey ‘strongly’ encouraged me to audition for the high school musical when I was in ninth grade going into 10th grade,” Donica explained. “She said the musical needed more guy leads and thought I would be good.  I never thought I would be in the cast let alone be given a lead. After that I was hooked, I loved the musicals.”

Mr. Ian Edwards served as Donica’s Director in these school musicals and has seen first-hand the journey Donica has enjoyed as a performer. 

“Tristan first joined the cast of the musicals as a 10th grader when we performed ‘Anything Goes.’ The first reactions amongst the directors were that there was definitely a natural talent present. With the coming years, he took on a variety of roles, each one challenging him more as an actor and as a singer. He holds himself to a high standard when performing, and that has been a key to his theatrical success,” Edwards explained. “As a sophomore, he was Moonface Martin in ‘Anything Goes.’ He demonstrated his strong singing voice and his natural inclination for comedic acting. The next year, he played the lead, Harold Hill, in ‘The Music Man.’ This year pushed him because the number of songs and lines increased dramatically. He also had to carry himself as a lead character where much of the show ran through him. This year, he played the title character in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.’ This year's show challenged him because he had to spend more time playing a serious character, something that went against the characters he played in the past. With each year, he was asked to take on more responsibility with his roles, and he worked each year to push himself to be better.”

Donica’s passion for music extends beyond the halls of MAHS. He is a Worship Leader at the Grace Brethren Church. 

It is through his faith that Tristan finds his inspiration for music.  

God being the reason I made it in and He's the reason I can do the things I do. All the glory should go to Him not me.”

In preparation for the Regional Festival and the States’ audition, Donica said he lost track of how many hours he practiced on his own and in school with Ritchey.

“I am so excited about going to States, to have this opportunity to perform with so many talented people from all across Pennsylvania.”

Following two days of rehearsals, students will perform in a concert at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, under the direction of Dr. Amanda Quist, Director of Choral Activities at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. The concert will include the following pieces: “Awake The Trumpet’s Lofty Sound” by G.F. Handel; “Lacrimosa” by W.A. Mozart; “Threads of Joy,” written by Dr. Quist and her husband; “Tuba,” a South African song, written by Nahmla Kudibene and  Michael J. Barrett; “Ballade To The Moon” by Daniel Elder; and “Witness,” by Stacey Gibbs.

“I am impressed but not surprised that Tristan is advancing. His hard work has paid off in the long run. He has been through many auditions and grueling rehearsals to get to this point. Yes, he is very talented, but his hard work and diligence is what brought him this far in the choral world,” Ritchey added.  “I’m thankful that he had this opportunity especially since he will be studying music education in the fall. This festival will help to shape and prepare him for his future career in music.”