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WMS choirs sing out tonight, Friday

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Worthington Middle School seventh-grade girls ensemble performs "Minnesota Girls" during rehearsal for their upcoming choral concert at the Memorial Auditorium in Worthington.1 / 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Worthington Middle School eighth-grade girls ensemble rehearses under a blacklight in preparation for the upcoming concert at the Memorial Auditorium in Worthington.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- "You know how huge this is -- this is ginormous," encouraged Cindy Anderson, Worthington Middle School (WMS) choral and general music instructor for the past 24 years, as she worked with her eighth-grade girls' special ensemble earlier this week.

Anderson might easily have referred to the scope of the annual WMS spring choral concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. today and Friday at Memorial Auditorium. With about 290 sixth- through eighth-grade singers ready to perform, Anderson always appreciates the help of her WMS music colleagues, volunteers, her husband, Duane, and auditorium staff in staging the show.

"Finding time to get all the kids here for rehearsals gets more challenging every year," Anderson said after a night of extra practice with the small groups set to sing. "I am excited about 'Firework' (the Katy Perry number the eighth-grade girls will sing in black light, with hand-painted graphics)," she said. "They came up with the idea right off the bat last fall, saying they wanted to do something different and memorable, and I think they got their wish."

While Katy Perry music is certainly not a concert theme -- "There will be no blue hair for Mrs. Anderson," the music teacher joked -- the seventh-grade girls will sing "Minnesota Girls," a takeoff on Perry's "California Gurls."

Their male counterparts will tackle Huey Lewis and the News' "Hip to be Square."

Together, the seventh-grade choir will sing "Gada," the madrigal-style "Nonny Nonny No" and a Zulu folk song with percussion accompaniment.

"My sixth-graders are in the '60s," Anderson said, with the boys' ensemble presenting "Born to be Wild," and the girls crooning "Do You Believe in Magic?" The sixth-grade chorus pieces include "Let it Shine," songs in Hebrew and Latin, and what Anderson says is a "fun, upbeat number" called "Feel the Beat."

"It's pretty cool stuff for sixth-graders, but they are hard workers who like to go above and beyond," she said. "They want to be the best they can be."

This year's Festival Singers -- an auditioned group of 11 eighth-graders, six of whom performed March 14 at the Celebration of Music Festival in Brandon, S.D. -- will entertain with the light vocal jazz selection "Save the Bones for Henry Jones."

The centerpiece selection for the roughly 85-voice eighth-grade choir is an arrangement of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," which the students present with energy and humor.

"Last year they only sang the first half of it, but they will deliver the entire 16-page number this week," said Anderson, adding Omar Pintor is featured as a soloist.

During Anderson's traditional end-of-show video featuring the "graduating" eighth-graders in nostalgic photos from birth through their middle school days, the students will sing a medley including "Let Them Be Little," the Black-Eyed Peas' "I've Got a Feeling" and "Do I Make You Proud," a tear-jerker popularized by Taylor Hicks of "American Idol" fame.

Endorsed Anderson, "It takes a lot of effort to put this together every year, but I'm confident the audience will have a great evening."

The Worthington Middle School choir concert takes place at 7 p.m. today and Friday at Memorial Auditorium. An admission fee is payable at the door; District 518 activity passes are also honored.