High school choir ‘inspires’ principal at Las Vegas festival

The White Pine High School Singers traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the Clark County Advanced Choral Festival on March 25 in a festival that takes choirs in the Southern Nevada region and provides them an opportunity to perform for each other and receive adjudication and feedback from college and professional musicians.

Choirs who participate must sing three selections. The festival requires one selection that is unaccompanied, one selection in a foreign language and all three selections must be of a difficulty level of three or greater. Additionally, choirs must sing an unaccompanied scale and a sight-singing exercise. Sight-singing involves looking at a piece of music that the  Singers have never seen before and singing it without hearing it on the piano first.

The WPHS  Singers kicked off the excursion with a dress rehearsal open to parents and friends on the evening of March 24. The musicians worked out a few of the kinks with spacing and performed all three of their songs before an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers.

The following day, the group departed WPHS at four in the morning so they could arrive for their 9:40 a.m. performance time. They began the concert with a contemporary anthem entitled “Sing a Mighty Song.” The piece contrasts powerful but discordant sections with soft, tender, and harmonious sections. The text in part reads “O blessed am I that I may sing.” The second number, a madrigal entitled “Fair Phyllis I saw sitting” is of England in the 16th century. The musicians sang of the maid Phyllis who ran off cavorting with her shepherd boyfriend. “O then they fell a-kissing, a-kissing” is how the carefree song concludes. The  Singers closed with a moving rendition of Z. Randall Stroope’s ballad “Amore de mi alma.” The translation of text to this song reads “I was born to love only you; My soul has formed you to its measure; I want you as a garment for my soul.”

Adjudicators responded favorably to White Pine’s performances, noting the group’s “excellent participation” and “great execution of some difficult repertoire.” Feedback also included, “work for consistency of phrasing throughout, it was stunning at times.”

The Singers received some valuable feedback about how to continue to improve as well, including the suggestion of making sure that each musician is completely engaged throughout the performance.

Overall, the group earned one superior minus rating and two superior ratings. Assistant Director and Accompanist Connie Muir said, “I have seen great growth among the students this year, more than ever before. It is a joy to see them grow!”

Director Adam Young said he was proud of the team after the experience.

“They have worked hard and paid great attention to detail,” he said. “Their desire to learn and improve inspires me. As an ensemble, we are going to take the adjudicators’ feedback and use it continue our progression towards being the best we can be.”

The travel experience and help with uniform expenses came in part through the support of Midway Gold, which contributed $2000 to the  Singers for these purposes. Young noted, “Midway has been so generous to our school over the last four years or so. I deeply appreciate their generosity. This donation will allow us to plan excellent vocal music learning opportunities for students for quite some time.”

The WPHS Singers will present these three selections as well as much more during their Spring Concert on May 29.

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