SHELDON, Iowa | Rosa Gude and her family gather around the TV at 7 p.m. Thursday to observe a Thanksgiving tradition: Looking for Rosa during the Iowa All-State Music Festival on Iowa Public Television.
Gude, a senior alto, earns her fourth berth in the prestigious all-state choir, one of a select few four-time all-staters this year, and just the third four-timer in the long history of music at Sheldon High School.
Of 603 singers in the all-state choir, only eight, like Gude, are four-time selections. Counting the band and orchestra, there are 37 four-time all-staters in Iowa this year.
Rosa isn't the lone all-stater in her family, however. Younger sister Madeline Gude earns an all-state nod in band this year, putting the young clarinetist on track to possibly become the school's fourth four-timer.
While it takes hard work to achieve this distinction, the Gudes come by some of their musical chops honestly. Mother Linda (Thayer) Gude was a three-time all-state bassoonist during her prep playing days at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Father James Gude was a two-time all-state vocalist at Iowa Falls High School in Iowa Falls, Iowa.
That's 10 all-state medals -- and counting -- for the musical Gudes.
Where does Rosa keep her four medals? "They're in a shoebox in my closet," she says with a shrug. "I get them out and wear them for the concerts here at school."
Those concerts must be numerous as Rosa performs with the high school's concert, jazz and show choirs. She's also featured in the concert, marching and jazz band with her oboe.
Cliff St. Clair, Sheldon's veteran band director, laughs about a time this fall when Rosa Gude's alto voice came in handy for his marching band, a band she oversaw as drum major.
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"She was directing the band on a Friday night and it came time for her oboe solo, as she's a wonderful oboist, we handed the instrument up to her on the podium," St. Clair says. "Well, it takes an oboe a while to warm up and she couldn't get the sound she needed."
St. Clair helped her improvise. Knowing how well she could sing, St. Clair quickly suggested she sing the solo. She did.
"It worked out so well we had her sing the solo the next day during a marching band competition in Algona, Iowa," St. Clair says. "And the judge couldn't get over how much she sounded like Fantine, the character from 'Les Miserables,' the musical."
The song wasn't a selection from "Les Miserables," St. Clair notes. Interestingly, Rosa played Fantine in "Les Miserables" when Sheldon High did it as the school musical last year.
Rosa Gude has also been a fixture in Sheldon's plays and musicals, both during the school year and each summer, as Sheldon has one of the few high school summer theater programs in the state.
It's where you'll likely find Rosa the rest of this school year and throughout the summer. After her fourth all-state experience, she'll dig into high school speech in her last go-around with the Orabs' thespian program. She was stellar last year, an all-stater three times, including a rare double-dip as a performer at the Iowa Individual All-State Speech Festival.
"I think I was one of 25 people who did two performances last year," Rosa Gude says.
Again, she shrugs. Again, I shake my head, in awe.
I'm happy to hear she won't give up her musical and performance passions. Rosa Gude says she'll likely land at Simpson College next fall, with plans to study vocal performance. Her aim? Get into opera or musical theater.
I wouldn't be surprised if her talent and dedication keep the Gude family fixed on performance broadcasts in the future.