ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
His quiet demeanor belies his confidence, but even Jonathan Regier likely would be the first to admit that his voice generally doesn’t rise above the general buzz of his peers in normal conversation.
Put him in a choir, though, and his voice puts him among the very best of them.
Regier recently was named to the Kansas Music Educators Association honors choir for the second year in a row-a feat accomplished only by one other Hillsboro High School vocalist in instructor David Clark’s 20-year tenure.
“This was his second year in state choir, and he had a really high score,” Clark said. “He’s amazing. I was really proud of him. He’s just a great kid.”
“I was very excited,” the senior baritone said about being told of his selection. “It’s always a fun time. I had a great time last year at state. You’re singing with the best singers in the state-people who enjoy singing, and that makes it fun.”
To be selected, vocalists from across the state gather in Wichita to sing several selections chosen beforehand by the judges. The songs are prerecorded in four parts with the vocalist supplying the fifth part, according to his or her range.
The best voices are selected first for district choirs, then the best of the best at the district level are chosen for state choir.
Regier said judges pick members of the state choir from the same audition but don’t announce them until district rehearsals are completed.
Regier credits his private voice teacher, Brad Vogel from Tabor College, for his success at auditioning.
“He’s knows a lot about that process and worked with me on the selections to get me ready for the audition,” he said.
Having grown up in a musical family, Regier said his vocal abilities and interests come somewhat naturally. He’s been singing for about as long as he can remember.
“Going to (family) Christmas gatherings when I was little, my sister and I would sing together,” Regier said. “We still do somewhat of a musical program at Christmas. We had always listened to music growing up, and I started with piano lessons in early elementary school, I guess.”
Regier said his parents, Dale and Teresa Regier, have encouraged his musical interests, but he hasn’t felt pressured by this parents to pursue them.
“I think it’s just something I’ve come to really enjoy and something I will continue to enjoy,” he said.
Regier said excelling at singing is a combination of having natural abilities and then investing time and energy to develop them.
“It’s half and half, maybe-I don’t know exactly what the ratio is,” he said. “You have to have something to work with, but you have to work with what you’ve got.”
In addition to his exposure to music at HHS, Regier has been taking weekly private lessons from Vogel since his sophomore year.
“He is above average in his natural ability, but also he’s above average in his ethic to work and improve,” Vogel said. “He doesn’t accept anything, not only until it sounds good to me and to him, but until he understands what it is that he’s doing so he can control it. He’s not just trying to get something done. He wants to understand everything about the process. He asks many questions-which is really fun for a teacher.”
Regier said he’s glad he invested the time and effort in lessons.
“I don’t think I would have made it into state choir if I hadn’t taken voice lessons,” he said. “The quality of my singing, I think, has improved a lot.”
“When we first started working, he had kind of a lid on his voice,” he said. “He had a certain level he was comfortable to, and that was it. We worked through that and kind of raised the lid over time.
“The amazing thing is that between his sophomore and junior years he matured a lot physiologically through that summer,” Vogel added. “When he came back at the start of his junior year, his entire range was high right away. It made us wonder what voice classification he was because his range changed that drastically, and his overall tone quality was that much more powerful.”
Music has been only one of Regier’s interests during his years at HHS.
He’s been active in drama since the beginning and landed the lead role in the school’s last two productions-the comedy “Fools” and the musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
“I like both,” Regier said about performing in non-musicals and musicals. “It’s fun, though, to be able to sing, too.”
“He was just incredible in ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,'” said Clark, who helped direct the production.
In addition to the arts, Regier has been a four-year participant in the basketball program.
“I guess I do have a lot of different interests,” he said. “There’s some areas where I’ve received more recognition than others. In drama I had a lead role. In basketball I’m sitting on the bench-but I still enjoy being part of the team.”
Regier hasn’t settled on a college yet, but plans to pursue music as part of his college experience.
“I don’t really see myself teaching (music) and music performance is slim,” Regier said about the longer-range future. “I guess we’ll see what happens.”
He does expect to make music part of his life, whatever professional field he decides to pursue.
“I really enjoy leading worship for youth group, and I’d like to help out with worship teams,” he said.
Regier and the state honors choir will perform at the KMEA convention next month. The public is invited to attend the 3 p.m. performance Feb. 23 at Century II in Wichita.