Having been involved in Tunkhannock Area music programs together since middle school, it was only natural that Jordana Bach and Nathan Johnson would reach their biggest musical achievement together as seniors.
Last week, Bach and Johnson traveled to Pittsburgh for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Festival. At the recent regional competition, Bach qualified for All-State Vocal Jazz, and Johnson for All-State Chorus.
“In sixth grade, we both started on tenor saxophone, so it’s really cool getting to do all of these things with someone you’ve been through middle school and high school with,” Johnson said. “I love seeing myself grow and everything, but it’s amazing seeing how far she’s going too.”
“We build off of each other and bring each other up,” Bach added.
For both Bach and Johnson, participating in PMEA festivals is somewhat of a tradition in both of their families.
“My mom just recently showed me a picture with her in her PMEA district stuff,” Bach said. “My whole family is really big into singing, and so it was inevitable for me to get into it.”
Johnson’s father qualified for regionals all three years he was able to audition in high school.
“Actually, this year is the first time I even made it to regionals,” Johnson said. “I never made it past districts, which I really have to thank my girlfriend for because there were times where I thought about giving up and she’s been helping me and motivating me.”
While Bach has been singing in choruses outside of school and participating in musical theater alongside Johnson, she didn’t take a chorus class at Tunkhannock Area until her junior year.
She took a leap of faith and auditioned for districts that year, which led to qualifying for regionals. She missed out on states last year, but tried again this year and made the cut.
Bach was confused when she was called into the office one day, but came in to see her choral director Tara Kasperowski trying to hold back a smile.
She asked what was happening, and Kasperowski blurted out that she made it to states.
“I was just so overwhelmed with happiness and just total excitement. I hugged her and we were just crying together. It was a really awesome moment,” Bach said, especially since auditioning at the state level is a more selective process.
Since All-State Chorus differs from All-State Vocal Jazz, Johnson found out he qualified for states at the regional competition.
“They were calling names first through last and when they called my name, I was like ‘No. There’s no way,’” said Johnson, who assumed he only got first alternate since he never made it this far before.
Once he realized he did in fact qualify for states, he immediately called his family, friends and girlfriend.
“For a solid half an hour, I was in awe. Even after that, I was still calling it districts. Eventually it got to regionals and then when I was at All-States I was like ‘God, this is All-States. Woah.’”
At the All-State Festival, both students spent hours each day practicing with the other qualifiers and tied it all together with a performance. They also got to hear performances from professional ensembles.
In Bach’s case, a fire alarm going off right before the concert began threw things off, but the All-State Vocal Jazz performance eventually went on with success.
Outside of the choral and theater departments, both students play in the marching band, where Johnson serves as a drum major. He also enjoys volunteering.
Bach is a band section leader and plays on numerous athletic teams in addition to being a member of the ski club and music honor society.
After high school, she plans to attend Suffolk University in Boston and study art history, but still make sure that she’s still making music in some way.
“It’s just a really big part of life. It’s like a stress reliever. It makes me feel happy whenever I’m doing it,” Bach said.
Pending audition, Johnson wants to study music education at Mansfield University.
“Music is pretty much everything to me and I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for that,” he said.
Altogether, 28 TA choral students attended various festivals throughout the school year.
PMEA District 9 Chorus Festival: Jordana Bach, Alexia Diaz, Mykael Harvey, Loghan Hirkey, Nathan Johnson, Jessica Kaneski, Madison Ostir, and Levi Westfield.
PMEA Region IV Chorus Festival: Jordana Bach, Alexia Diaz, Mykael Harvey, and Nathan Johnson.
PMEA All-State Chorus Festival: Nathan Johnson.
PMEA District 9 Vocal Jazz Lab Choir: Krista Dieffenbach, Haylee Docalavich, Charisma Fell, Alexis Hutchins, and Isabella Race.
PMEA District 9 District Vocal Jazz Festival: Jordana Bach, Alexia Diaz, Nathan Johnson, and Jessica Kaneski.
PMEA All-State Vocal Jazz Festival: Jordana Bach.
Susquehanna/Wyoming County High School County Chorus Festival: Brittney Cooper, Charisma Fell, Dennis Gilson, Mykael Harvey, Nathan Johnson, Rachel Kenia, Christopher Mirabelli, Grace Richter, and Ashley Rusinko.
Susquehanna/Wyoming County Junior High County Chorus Festival: Raelyn Baker, Mollie Maxwell, Sophia Mancuso, Kendra Brosious, Lorelai Paxton, Gigi MacDonald-Scotti, Nick Algar, Ceejay Appel, and Connor Chesner.