January 23, 2012
Students sing with common voice
All-County Choruses perform Saturday
HOMER — Singing in front of an auditorium full of family causes a young person to feel both nervous and excited, some of Cortland County’s top singers said Saturday before the All-County Choral Festival.
Junior High Chorus performers, in seventh and eighth grades, were more likely to say they got nervous than their Senior High Chorus counterparts.
The older students thought it was more fun to meet students from other schools and to hone their vocal abilities, especially those who want to pursue music education or performance in college.
The two groups performed Saturday afternoon at Bonne Auditorium in Homer Junior High. They consisted of students from Homer, Cortland, McGraw and Cincinnatus school districts.
The two groups, about 80 to 100 students each, had a prerehearsal a few weeks ago, where they received the songs they would perform. They rehearsed Friday morning and again for four hours on Saturday before the 2 p.m. concert at Bonne Auditorium.
Marlee Vedder, a Cincinnatus seventh-grader, said she endured the hours of rehearsal “because I really like to sing and this is something I want to do when I get older.”
“The work is worth it,” said Elias Rivera, a Cortland senior who sings bass. Added Cortland classmate and fellow bass Dan Moss, “All-state performance is five days of rehearsal, so this isn’t bad.”
Each chorus performed five songs that ranged across genres, including classical, jazz and multicultural, such as African-American spirituals or Scottish songs.
The singers were chosen by their teachers, some of whom — such as Cortland Junior-Senior High School teacher Ben Wells — used a point system based on work ethic and effort in school itself along with vocal ability. Cincinnatus teacher Jacklyn Chapman said she chooses students who will put in the rehearsal time.
The guest conductors who directed them were Ithaca College music professor Susan Avery for the Senior High Chorus and Marcellus High School teacher Brian Ackles for the Senior High Chorus. Ackles taught at Homer Junior High before moving to his current job.
Piano accompanists were Cincinnatus teacher Lynn Koch for the Senior High Chorus and Cortlandville piano teacher Paula Gustafson for the Junior High Chorus. Students shared their thoughts during lunch in the school cafeteria, between rehearsals.
“It’s really fun to hear different voices from different schools, that you don’t usually hear,” said Amanda Reyngoudt, Cortland eighth-grader. An alto, she said she was in chorus for the first year, although she had danced and played flute for several years.
Homer High School sophomore Jordan Green, an alto, said she and the other Homer students had a busy two days between rehearsals and managing a school dance Friday night that raised money for their music program. Plus, midterm exams are coming up this week.
Green said she and several other Homer students act or manage the stage for the high school musical, so they are accustomed to being in front of audiences.
Rivera, Moss and Cortland sophomore Molly Wagner all said they want to become music teachers.
Not everyone was a seasoned veteran. Wagner said she sang in chorus at Parker Elementary School in fifth and sixth grades, then did not take part again until this year. Vedder said she joined chorus only in sixth grade because she was homeschooled.
Caitlin Troy, a Cortland senior who received all-state vocal honors, said she loves music but probably will not pursue it as a college major.
“I’m leaning toward education as a major but not in music,” she said. “I would keep music as a hobby.”
Nate Apker, a Homer eighth-grader, said preparing for the concert was a lot of work but he and other chorus members had sung some of the selections before, such as the Junior High Chorus finale, the African song “Bonse Aba.” The chorus danced in place as it performed that song.
Ackles said the blending of students from different schools creates “a larger musical community, which is nice.”
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