▶️ Choir students reflect on abrupt ending to their season of song


Bend High senior Ethan Starling has been singing since elementary school.

“It’s always been a huge passion of mine,” Starling said. “Between the competitions, to the people that you meet in choir, to just the cool experiences you have, being on stage. I just love it all.”

Fellow Lava Bear Charis Barnes has also been in choir for the last four years.

“You’re never alone in choir and you’ve got other people sharing your part,  so you don’t have to necessarily carry it all on your own, and that’s something that I’ve learned,” Barnes said.

Senior year for Barnes and Starling was supposed to be full of experiences they’d been looking forward to for months, even years.

“My senior concert, that’s just always something that’s really special for seniors and it’s like a special going away, goodbye thing, especially being on that stage all four years,” Starling said.

“The last few choir concerts I was looking forward to,” siad Barnes. “I was also looking forward to the spring play.”

“Bend High, we were going to host the Choir Festival and there’s like 25 choirs, probably close to 1000 students that come through,” said Bend Senior high School choir director Luke Macsween. ” [We had] trips to Disneyland and Seattle and Reno.”

But of course, those plans, the final concerts and future performances, were cancelled with the spread of COVID-19. 

“It’s been rough because there’s like little things that I’m missing out on,” said Barnes. “Choir festival and state were completely cancelled. If we’d made it far enough in festival we would have been able to go to state and see these incredible choirs perform.”

“We work all year and the experience is great,” said Macsween. “To lose those opportunities, it’s really heart-wrenching for me and the students.”

Even in the midst of the chaos and disappointment, there are things to look forward to.

While Starling and Barnes may not go to state this year, they are both headed to college in the fall.

“I’m going to Grand Canyon University,” said Starling.

“In the fall I am moving to Montana and I’m going to Montana State University to study biochemistry and pre-med,” Barnes said.

Both plan to keep music in their lives.

“I’m doing their worship arts media and production program for music down there, so I’ll be recording and producing a lot,” Starling said.

“I don’t know exactly what kind of choir programs they have there, but I would love to audition into the choir programs at Montana State,” Barnes said.

For others who may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, a message of hope.

“Losing some concerts does not change you as a musician or a performer,” said Macsween. “It’s a holdup but man music is full of challenges.”

“Find the little things that make you happy in this sea of uncertainty,” Barnes said. 

 “It was fun while it lasted,” said Starling. “I guess what we can learn from this is to learn to not take things for granted anymore.”


Join the Conversation

Top Local Stories