GREENSBURG – The South Decatur High School Choral Music Department recently participated in the annual Indiana State School Music Association District Solo and Ensemble Festival at North Decatur High School.

The ISSMA Solo and Ensemble competition is divided into two parts – Choral and Instrumental – and the two divisions have separate dates for their yearly competitions. All performing soloists receive their competition pieces a minimum of two months before their event and gather at educational institutions across the state to perform them for accredited educator judges. South Decatur music students participated in 19 events including two piano solos, 13 vocal solos, and four vocal ensembles.

“At the end of the day, there were 12 Gold Ratings, six Silver Ratings, and one Bronze Rating earned,” South Decatur High School Choral Director Matt Diehl said. “Of those gold ratings, five solos and one ensemble earned the right to participate in the State Finals contest on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Perry Meridian High School.”

South Decatur students earning gold ratings and qualifying for the State Contest were Alexis Ashley and Jade Bishop as first-time finalists, receiving gold ratings for their soprano solos; Anna Johannigman, an alto and fourth time finalist, received a gold as well.

Of the men competing, Hudson Meeker, a first time finalists, and Nolan Store, also a bass vocalist and a fourth time finalist, both received gold ratings.

As a Madrigal quartet, the ensemble comprised of Faith Gardner, Anna Johannigman, Kenny Stier, and Nolan Storm received a gold rating and will advance to the State competition Feb. 16.

Students receiving gold ratings but not advancing to the state contest were soprano soloists Libby Baugh, Ashley Peters, Mary Schwering, and Stella Swango.

“Nobingmerdal,” a vocal quartet comprised of Maria Nobbe, Mary Schwering, Clair Schoettmer, and Brayley Sundal, received gold medal, and “Sabels,” a sextet of vocalists Sophie Bushhorn, Addison Baltus, Bridget Nobbe, Elizabeth Flessner, Libby Baugh, and Sami Storm, received gold medals as well.

Receiving Silver Ratings the day of the festival were soprano vocal soloists Camille Loper, Ivey Barnes, and Destannie Campfield.

Alto vocal soloist Andrea Jones and piano soloist Anna Johannigman received silver ratings, as did the “Treble Makers” Barbershop Quartet comprised of students Nick Brannin, Aidan Brown, Brenan Cooper, and Nolan Storm

Finally, receiving a bronze rating was pianist Elizabeth Flessner.

Diehl was pleased with his student’s performances.

“It has been an outstanding contest season for us,” Diehl said. “All of our choirs competed and did very well.”

Music festivals for students in Indiana secondary and elementary schools began in the mid 1920s, when a small number of bands and orchestras participated in national playing events.

Under the sponsorship of band instrument manufacturers, these events provided an opportunity for a number of Indiana groups to gain national recognition. During the 1930s, the Hobart and Hammond High School Bands were among the top ranking concert bands in the nation.

According to, the Indiana State School Music Association’s mission statement is to provide educationally evaluated music performance activities for the students and teachers of the state of Indiana, to assist in the development of performance-oriented assessment of state and national musical academic standards, and to offer educational support to fulfill this mission.

Having similar missions, the Northern Indiana School Band, Orchestra, and Vocal Association (NISBOVA), and the Indiana School Music Association merged into the the Indiana State School Music Association.

ISSMA-sponsored events and contests include solo and ensemble auditions, marching band festivals and competitions leading to the ISSMA State Finals and the Concert Choir, Orchestra, and Band State Finals.

The Indiana Marching Band State Finals for open class are held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, while the state finals for scholastic class is held at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. State Concert Organizational Finals are held at varying locations in Indianapolis.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext. 7011 or email at