Lincoln singer receives solo accolades

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A longtime participant in Lincoln’s choir program, junior Ben Hanf, won his first solo award at the Oregon Music Education Association’s district contest on March 2, qualifying him as Lincoln’s sole representative to the state competition.

Hanf began singing in musical theatre and began singing in choirs when he was in the eighth grade.

“When I lived in St. Helens, there was a program called Missoula Children’s Theater which went to communities with a small theater presence and they put on shows for kids, and sometimes they did musicals,” he recounted. “So I started singing, and I said ‘this is really fun,’ so I went to a summer camp outside of Missoula, Montana and we sang songs. All the other kids were talking about how they did choir and I thought ‘that’s the way to get better at singing.’”

Hanf currently sings in Lincoln’s Cardinal Choir, Lincoln’s Chamber Choir, and in Pacific Youth Choir’s Mixed choir and Men’s choir. He also still participates in Lincoln’s drama department, he’s the treasurer of the drama cabinet: one of six cabinet members. Beyond that, Hanf is also“self-taught on the accordion.”

Junior Rainer Kolar, a friend of Hanf, has sung with him since the eighth grade. Since then, Kolar has seen him improve. “He’s gotten more confident, his range has improved, and he’s really blossomed into a leader.”

The competition he participated in “includes vocal soloists, vocal groups, instrumental soloists, [and] instrumental groups,” says Hanf. “There are six vocal divisions, [and] I won the tenor division.”

However, getting first place in his division at districts is not enough to go to state. Hanf also had to have a qualifying point score. Three other Lincoln singers did get qualifying point scores, although because they didn’t get first this only made them alternates.

Each performer at the competition has to play an instrument or sing in front of an adjudicator, which can be frightening, especially for a first timer.

“I was really terrified,” says Hanf of the experience. “I was shocked because I’m used to performing for a lot of people for choir or theater, but it’s somehow much more unnerving to perform for only a couple people.”

However, when Hanf sings in a group it is a much better experience for him. “You always know he knows what he’s doing, so how confident he is helps you be more confident. I feel like I can sing better when he’s singing with me,” says Kolar about singing with him. “He’s very good at what he’s passionate about.”

Hanf is definitely passionate about singing.

“Some of my closest friends are singers,” Hanf says about singing in choirs. “I think music is the most beautiful thing to me. Everyone has a most beautiful thing to them, [and] for me, it’s music. I can get lost in music like nothing else, and I think it’s got a beautiful vulnerability to it. I’ve never felt more vulnerable than when I’m singing and that’s valuable to me. And I think it’s valuable to us as a society to feel vulnerable and to feel safe in a group. To let go and express yourself.”