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Ring the Bell! 2024 NTSCI Review

Just when Cowtown threw the Texas show choir scene for a loop at the beginning of this year, North Texas came along and looped a couple more curveballs into the hierarchy, both in high school and middle school!

High School Results

Grand Champion: LD Bell “The Bell System” (BV)

2nd: Keller “Blue Lights”

3rd: Keller Central “Voices of Central” (BC)

4th: Coppell “Vivace”

5th: Fossil Ridge “Pantheon”

6th: Keller Central “Voltage”

For the first time, The Bell System is grand champion of a show choir contest! Bell first appeared in show choir world at the second annual Lone Star Invite in 2013 and has been under the direction of Jo Ann Antoine ever since. The group had been a finals contender at Lone Star and placed as high as third at North Texas in its early years, but didn’t place at all in 2020 or 2022, bookending the pandemic. However, The Bell System burst back into the placements here last year with a third-place outing, followed by a finals appearance at Lone Star. Keeping the same two-competition schedule this year, Bell added arrangements by several nationally-recognized arrangers and flew straight to the top of North Texas results.

Zach Steele continues to show that he’s the real deal at Keller, as well. When Chi-Chi King retired at the end of last school year, the inevitable questions arose about if the program would keep the same standard as before. It’s safe to say that they haven’t kept the standard – Keller has exceeded it. The newly-renamed Blue Lights came out swinging with a split-caption win over VOC at Cowtown and now have a second-place finish to back it up, leaving them in prime position to take a finals spot and play dark horse at Lone Star next week.

Voices of Central has no wins in two competitions this year, which feels weird to say. The bright side of it all is that it is less of a reflection on their program and much more a reflection of how other programs have grown. Additionally, Central has two Best Choreography captions this year, showing that the group has a strong identity. While they host next weekend, VOC has an “out of state” trip on their calendar March 8-12 that may be another show choir competition out-of-state to close out their competitive season.

Coppell would’ve definitely been breakout group of the competition had either Blue Lights or Voices of Central won. Vivace came straight from the uncompetitive realm, where they had been putting on home shows for years, and straight into the placements in the competitive scene. While this appears to be Vivace’s only competition appearance for this season, they instantly become one of the most interesting groups to watch for a return next year. Will they be a Vandegrift-style flash in the pan that places in their first competition and then barely competes again? Only time will tell.

Adding another solid placement to its young resume is Fossil Ridge. Pantheon is always there in the placements or finals these days, no matter how much the cast of choirs around them seems to change. While Lone Star is always a very challenging competition to make finals at, this may be the year that Pantheon puts it all together and advances to the evening round.

Finishing the placements was Voltage. With Voltage placing, four of the top six choirs were from Keller ISD, with Bell representing HEB and Coppell from Coppell ISD. It was a solid step up for Voltage, who lost to Arlington Heights in the prep division at Cowtown and then beat a handful of varsity choirs at North Texas to round out the placements. While they face increased numbers in the ‘second choir’ arena this year from Keller Lumina and Fort Worth Southwest Sound Machine, Voltage is still clearly on top of the pile.

Two groups that did not place but nabbed captions were Rouse and Centennial. Rouse’s Isaiah Barafwala was named the Best Soloist, a nice pickup for IntoneNation in a crowded field. Additionally, Centennial won the People’s Choice Award, which while it doesn’t directly derive from the on-stage performance, is still an award that they can hang their hat on and take back to school.

Not placing in the high school division were Arlington, Paschal and Ferris alongside the aforementioned Rouse, Centennial and Keller Lumina. Not present at the competition was Fort Worth Southwest, who may have opted to withdraw in order to concentrate on their trip to Omaha for the South Omaha Classic on Saturday.

Middle School Results

1st: Trinity Springs “Titanium” (BV/BC)

2nd: Keller “Legend”

3rd: Timberview “Ovation”

4th: Vista Ridge “Musica Pantera”

5th: Indian Springs “Infinity”

6th: Trinity Springs “Fusion”

Oh, the joys that a unified middle school division can bring. While Texas is steadily growing into a scene that segments its middle school divisions, North Texas remains a competition where all middle school choirs are scored in one division, similar to the high school setup. After taking the win at Cowtown earlier this year, Titanium now looks to be in the driver’s seat for the rest of the season, taking a second consecutive win and both captions this time. Legend is also a stellar breakout group this season. After having no previous competitive record, they have done quite well mixing it up with the best middle school show choirs that Texas can offer.

Timberview makes a return to the placements here after not placing at Cowtown. While this is not the Ovation that ran a clean sweep of last year’s four middle school competitions, it is still a very solid group that can challenge for the top placements this season. They will look to keep the growth going and face some out-of-state opponents at Lone Star this next week.

Vista Ridge is a group that presents an interesting middle school parallel to Vivace. Both groups had not competed before 2024, and both were fourth place in their respective divisions at North Texas. Musica Pantera’s story differs a little bit from there, though. They debuted at Cowtown and while they didn’t place, the group was dubbed the Rising Star of all the middle school groups. Vista Ridge will be back at it again at Lone Star.

Rounding out the placements were a pair of Springs groups. Infinity and Fusion were the top two groups in middle school prep at Cowtown, and they transferred to fifth and sixth in the combined division at North Texas. Similar to Voltage coming up from prep and placing sixth in high school, these two choirs beat a handful of advanced middle school programs en route to their placements here.

The Texas scene turns right back around with the Keller Central Lone Star Invitational, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday this week! Be on the lookout for more coverage before then.

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