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Students in a boys' seventh-grade vocal ensemble perform the Taio Cruz song "Dynamite" during a Wednesday rehearsal for the Worthington Middle School spring choir concert at Memorial Auditorium. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

Middle school choirs to perform today, tomorrow

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WORTHINGTON -- May snow showers, rather than thunderstorms or tornadoes, appear to be ushering in the annual Worthington Middle School (WMS) spring choir concert, set for tonight and Friday at the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

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But weather won't deter the 275-plus sixth- through eighth-graders from belting out their polished pieces and demonstrating a few slick dance moves in what has become a Worthington tradition stretching back several decades.

"What've we got to lose, you guys?" queried director Cindy Anderson during a rehearsal with one of her small-group ensembles earlier this week.

Anderson has been present for 25 years of District 518 middle school choir concerts herself. "We never want to say coulda, woulda, shoulda -- you've got to have fun and you've got to have confidence," she exhorted her youthful singers as they got the feel of the large performing space for the first time.

The student vocalists will share a variety of musical styles during the concert, ranging from two folk songs performed by the seventh-grade choir ("This Old Hammer," about legendary railroad worker John Henry, and the Latin-flavored "One Note Samba") to "The Rhythm of Life" and Taylor Swift's "Never Grow Up" sung by the eighth-graders to "Junk Band Boogie," during which the sixth-graders will shake things up with instruments they've crafted out of bottles, cans and, well, other junk.

"The students are more comfortable performing by this point in the year," confirmed Anderson. "They've got a couple of concerts under their belts, and it's always a fun concert to look forward to because they're in a dedicated performance area, an actual auditorium, instead of a 'gym-atorium.'"

Besides the three nearly 100-voice choruses, Anderson works from September through May with students who voluntarily participate in small grade- and gender-specific ensembles, and this year is no exception.

"The eighth-grade boys are doing a parody of James Brown's 'I Feel Good,' changing it up to 'I Feel Old,' and the eighthgrade girls are singing 'Let's Hear it for the Boy' from 'Footloose,'"

Other ensemble features are the seventh-grade girls singing the contemporary "Stuck On You" by Sugarland, the seventh-grade boys regaling with "Dynamite," the sixth-grade girls giving it up for a disco medley including "Funky Town" and "I Will Survive," and the sixth-grade boys crooning the late-'50s doo-wop tune "Little Darlin'."

In addition, the Festival Singers -- an auditioned group of 11 eighth-graders, six of whom traveled in March to sing at the Celebration of Music Festival in Brandon, S.D. -- will entertain with the piece "Homeward Bound."

Anderson is appreciative of her students' efforts, and grateful for the assistance of her WMS music colleagues and other volunteers who help her put on the annual spring choir event.

"It will be a good show," assured the 25-year teaching veteran. "The kids have all been working very hard to learn their choreography, and they've put in the extra hours required to make it a very entertaining show."

The Worthington Middle School choir concert takes place at 7 p.m. today and Friday at Memorial Auditorium, 714 13th St., Worthington.

An admission fee is payable at the door; District 518 activity passes are also honored.

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