Photo courtesy of Courtney Rowley
In middle is Director of Choirs Courtney Rowley. From left to right are Men's Quartet members Spencer Johnson (Bass), Logan Monson (Baritone), George Chrisafis (Tenor II) and Gerson Tschider (Tenor I), who competed against 21 other men's vocal ensembles from across the state to take home the top prize.

Ballard High School men's ensemble places first at state competition

'It was disbelief at first,' says senior choir student

When Ballard High School Senior Baritone Logan Monson first learned that the men's quartet won first place at the prestigious State Solo and Ensemble Competition on April 26-27, his reaction was, "What? No way."

And then, he says, he started getting weird looks because he found himself skipping from joy.

Senior Bass Spencer Johnson had a similar story. He hadn't checked his phone all day, so when it was about 10 p.m. at night, he received two texts from choir director Courtney Rowley. The first said that they placed. The second said they got first.

He cheered in his car.

"It was disbelief at first," said Senior Tenor II George Chrisafis.

The kids had good reason to be shocked. It's the first time that Ballard High School has ever placed first in the competiton. The quartet -- consisting of Monson, Johnson, Chrisafis and Senior Tenor I Gerson Tschider -- had to beat out 21 other men's vocal ensembles across the state to win the spot.

"It's cool for the program because we've had a lot of great success and it just builds on the work we've been doing here," Rowley said.

That's not to say the students knew they bagged first place. The Ballard men's ensemble was the first to sing, at 8 a.m. sharp. They got up at 6 a.m., ate breakfast at the hotel, and were out the door, with not even time to rub sleepiness out of their eyes. One of them had been sick until just the day before and, after they sang, they had to listen to the rest of the top schools sing after them.

"It was kind of nervous listening to the other groups ... they sounded like they were at a level above us," Chrisafis said.

Rowley said winning first place not only meant being good, but beating out Union and Heritage High Schools based out of Vancouver, WA, which are thought to be two of the best choir schools in the state.

As high school comes to an end, the boys in the quartet -- all seniors -- are beginning to think about their future.

For Tschider, who has been in choir for four years, the future is still full of possibilities and he isn't quite sure where he is going to land, music or otherwise. He'll be attending Western University.

Chrisafis started singing when he was five and had been in the NW Boy's Choir for 10 years. He just started singing at BHS this year because, he said, "I missed singing." He'll be going to the University of Vermont to study biology, hopefully for med school, he said. He'll also probably join a men's singing group as well.

Monson, who just started choir this year ("I didn't really like singing in front of people"), plans on going to Shoreline for a couple of years before transferring to University of Washington or Seattle Pacific University.

Johnson, who has been singing since he was five starting out in church choirs, will be attending Western to study creative writing and will possibly go to school for screenwriting as well.

Next up, the BHS choir will be performing "Songs for the New World," created by Jason Robert Brown, in conjunction with the theatre program. For more info on that, click here.

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at

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