Substitute soloist wins top award for Mundelein High

In the world of high school show choir competition, sometimes things don't go as expected. In the case of Mundelein High School junior Alex Torralba Rivera, sometimes they go better than expected.

The MHS performance at the Great River Invitational in Davenport, Iowa, on Feb. 18 was especially memorable for Alex. He not only agreed to fill in when his choir's regular soloist, senior Will Gonzalez, became ill, but he offered to substitute on a second solo.

He then proceeded to win Best Male Soloist Within a Show for the Preliminary Awards, taking home a trophy, medal and a scholarship to a show choir camp this summer.

"He did not stop smiling all night long," MHS Choral Director Cory Thompson said. "In our finals performance, he had even more confidence and gave just a beautiful, vulnerable, and touching performance."

Thompson said Alex had rehearsed to sing as part of the group. But on Saturday morning, when the regular soloist went home sick, she asked Alex if he wanted to do the ballad solo. He calmly responded, "oh yeah, sure."

Then Alex asked Thompson about performing the solo in the group's opening number.

"I asked him if he would be comfortable having both solos, as it is a lot of pressure, and he responded with "yeah, I think it would be good. It will warm me up!'"

He was up against an extremely deep field of soloists throughout the day, Thompson said.

"If you know Alex, you know he is a humble, quiet student, who is not going to toot his own horn," Thompson said. "To have him step into such a big role for the day, without any rehearsals, was just inspiring, and such a testament to his character and work ethic."

His performance was one of many successes the three MHS show choirs - Sound, Reverb and Noise (a show choir combo) - have had this year.

In Davenport, Sound was named fourth runner-up overall in a show that featured competition from Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.

A week earlier, at the Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, Showcase, Will Gonzalez was named Best Male Soloist Within a Show; Reverb was named first runner-up, Prep Division; Noise was named the Best Band; and Sound was awarded Grand Champions Overall, Best Vocals and Best Choreography.

In January, both show choirs, Sound and Reverb, earned top honors at the Burlington, Wisconsin, Chocolate City Showcase. Reverb was named Grand Champion Prep Division, Best Vocals, Best Visuals, and Best Female Soloist within a show (freshman Jasmine Tigley), and Noise was the Best Band in the Prep Class division.

Sound was named Grand Champion Overall, Best Vocals, Best Visuals, Best Male Soloist within a show (senior Will Gonzalez), and Noise won Best Band in the Open Class division.

"I'm so proud of our kids," said Thompson.

"They have boundless energy and they channel that energy so well. These students have earned every award they've received."

Mundelein Sound is the premier coed show choir at MHS; Mundelein Reverb is the newly formed coed show choir; and Noise is a show choir combo.

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