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WMS spring choir concert next Thursday, Friday

The Worthington Middle School sixth-grade choir, led by music teacher Cindy Anderson, rehearses Thursday afternoon. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — An evening of musical pleasure awaits attendees of the upcoming Worthington Middle School (WMS) annual spring choir concert.

With two performances scheduled (7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center), parents and music-loving community members alike may take a seat to enjoy a diverse program presented by 245 sixth- through eighth graders under the direction of Cindy Anderson.

“It should be fun,” said Anderson, now in her 30th year as the WMS choir director.

Despite recent weather challenges that have cancelled a few planned rehearsals — Anderson explains that three weekend practice sessions were missed when the spring blizzards barreled through in unwelcome fashion — she’s confident her students will be ready to put their best faces and vocal chops forward.

“This has been ‘the year of the blizzard,’” she quipped. “But unless there’s a monsoon or hurricane headed our way, we’re good — because we’ve had all of the other stuff.”

One highlight of the students’ vocal presentation will include the sixth-graders singing “Seize the Day” from the musical “Newsies,” along with some choreography.

The seventh-grade choir chose Bruno Mars’ upbeat “Count on Me” as their “contemporary pick,” according to Anderson, and they’ll also share the classic Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and the Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila.”

“That’s a big Hebrew folk dance extravaganza,” commented Anderson of “Hava Nagila.”

The eighth-graders — “a nice bunch of kids,” Anderson assures — are slated to tackle “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “River Song.”

“’River Song’ originated when the Irish step dancing group Riverdance was a big deal,” explained Anderson. “It has beautiful harmonies and a real Irish dance feel to it.”

Small group ensembles are also part of the program, with the sixth-grade girls sharing “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney movie “Moana,” while their male counterparts will perform “Do You Love Me?” popularized in the movie “Dirty Dancing.”

From the seventh-grade girls, the audience will hear “Girls Just Want to Have Fun;” the seventh-grade boys are trying their hand at Frankie Valli’s “Sherry.” Anderson notes that Valli’s 83rd birthday is May 3, the same date as the first concert performance.

An ‘80s medley is on tap from the eighth-grade girls, featuring Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody,” Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” However, the eighth-grade guys jump forward a few decades to present the more contemporary “Bright Lights Bigger City” from “Pitch Perfect.”

“Finding time to get the kids together for extra rehearsals is getting more and more difficult,” admitted Anderson, citing busy schedules resulting from students’ multiple interests and activities.

But never fear; there will be an appearance by the eighth-grade Festival Singers, a select vocal ensemble that sang in early March at the Brandon (S.D.) Music Festival, plus the traditional concert-closing slideshow displaying often poignant pictures of the WMS “graduates” who will move on to Worthington High School next fall.

“They’ll sing ‘The Climb,’ ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Music of My Heart’ as their slideshow plays,” revealed Anderson.

While this is Anderson’s 30th year at the helm of the WMS vocal effort, she hastens to credit her predecessor, Ginger Sellberg, who passed away in late March at the age of 87.

“When Ginger retired, I was hired,” noted Anderson. “She was such a good mentor to me, and so supportive of what I tried to do.

“I was fresh out of college, and she was absolutely lovely to me. Ginger had taught for many years, and it can be difficult to have someone new come in to take over your program and legacy, but she never made me feel burdened; instead, she said, ‘You go get ’em, kid.’”

Sellberg, whose ISD 518 tenure stretched to nearly three decades, initiated the local spring choral concert tradition to which Anderson will add yet another memorable year later next week.

“I came in and tried to pick up where she left off,” said Anderson, praising Sellberg for establishing a respected choral program at the middle school level.

“Ginger was awesome and made my job a lot easier.”

The Worthington Middle School spring choir concert takes place at 7 p.m. both Thursday and Friday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. There is an admission fee, but ISD 518 activity passes and ISD 518 student IDs will be accepted.

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