Katie Kelley and Jonah Carney.jpg

Lewisburg Area High School students Katie Kelley, left, and Jonah Carney were accepted into the 2022 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Mixed Choir.

LEWISBURG — Two Lewisburg Area High School students recently were accepted into the 2022 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Mixed Choir.

Jonah Carney, a Tenor 2, and Katie Kelley, Soprano 1, were invited to join the choir along with five other national music ensembles on Nov. 3-6 in Washington, D.C.

According to NAfME, they represent the top performing high school musicians in the United States.

NAfME is one of the world’s largest arts education organizations and has operated at local, state, and national levels since 1907, addressing all aspects of music education.

Carney, 18, and recent graduate Ryan Shabahang were the first two students from Lewisburg Area High School ever to reach that level in choir in 2021, which was held virtually. Shabahang qualified as an alternate that year.

Carney said he is unable to attend this year.

Because the event was previously virtual, Kelley, 16, is the first Lewisburg student to attend an ANHE event in-person.

The All-National Honor Ensembles, Kelley said, are the next step beyond the three Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association (PMEA) festival levels of District, Regional and All-State.

Kelley said she plans to perform a benefit concert to raise funds to cover the cost of registration at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 in the Lewisburg Area High School, with donations accepted.

The performance will feature a duet between her and Carney.

Kelley said she was not aware of NAfME or All-National Honor Ensembles until she started getting involved with PMEA through the high school.

“Because the earliest anyone can audition for PMEA ensembles like District Chorus is in sophomore year, I couldn’t even fathom the idea of accomplishments beyond those divisions until this past year,” she said.

Even then, Kelley said, she never considered making nationals a goal.

“I was shocked when I made it past regionals to the all-state level, so Nationals felt like a distant dream.”

She has been in choir since second grade, singing with the Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale.

“It was that support from such an early age that gave me the resources for choral achievements and experiences,” she said.

Kelley said she want to pursue music for a living.

“This feels like confirmation that I’m on the right path,” said Kelley. “It’s nice to receive outside validation for something that I love doing but that can be difficult to stay confident in.”

Carney, in choir since fourth grade, said he has been working to this moment for a while. He said he has been singing long before he could talk and would perform often at his church.

“To make it to this level is a fairly rigorous, lengthy process.”

Carney said he was unsure if he would make it to states during his sophomore year. He auditioned for nationals and qualified. He said he attended the conference virtually.

“This year, I only made states as an alternate, but miraculously, I was given the opportunity to go since someone decided not to. I thank God for this blessing.”

Carney said he is sad not to be attending this years. He is participating at the PIAA Cross Country State Championship.

“I wish Katie the best at the conference. I know she will do wonderful things there,” said Carney. “This means a lot to me and it is truly an honor to have qualified.”

Carney gave credit to his family; choral director, Jonathan Walz, and voice teacher, Alyssa Ronco.

Lewisburg Area High School sent 12 students to All-State festivals in the spring: Including Carney and Kelley, Kiran Bedi, Haley Berge, Liam Cummings, Summer Evans, Ryan Gilmore, Isabelle Kim, Andrew Nicholls, Ryan Shabahang, Erich Stiner and Micah Zook.

Class Acts is a weekly feature highlighting students, teachers, programs and projects at Valley school districts. Email suggestions for future stories to news@dailyitem.com.

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