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WMS, WHS student choirs to raise voices in concert Monday

Members of the Worthington Middle School sixth-grade choir, under the tutelage of Cindy Anderson (at piano), rehearse Tuesday morning for their upcoming joint concert with Worthington High School chorale ensembles. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — The hope for resolution in the U.S. Congress may have been uncertain through the first part of this week, but it has been a sure thing for the 400-plus singers in the Worthington High School (WHS) and Worthington Middle School (WMS) choirs.

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“Hope for Resolution,” a stirring number that weaves together the sacred European tune “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” with a rhythmic South African melody, will be performed en masse by the sixth- through 12th-grade vocalists at the 7 p.m. Monday concert’s culminating point.

“It’s such a neat piece with a huge choir,” asserted Kerry Johnson, the WHS director of choral activities, of the mass selection. “It has a little bit of everything in it — some simpler lines for the younger kids, some more complex passages for the high school students, and it speaks to our community.

“The song blends traditional and non-traditional melodies and rhythms, and it seems to represent the blending of cultural traditions that takes place here in Worthington.”

This marks the second consecutive year that Johnson and WMS choir director Cindy Anderson have collaborated on a fall choir concert, which will be performed in the WHS gymnasium.

“I thought it was wonderful,” Anderson said of last year’s joint choral effort. “This way, more of the public gets to see the flow from middle school to high school and can observe the general progression from age to age, and the maturing kids do both vocally and personally between sixth and 12th grades.”

Johnson is similarly enthusiastic about uniting seven years’ worth of choral students in one concert program.

“It’s great for the kids to get together and appreciate both where they’ve been and where they might be going,” Johnson said. “And I love mass choir performances — the kids gain a real sense of community from it, and the sound of nearly 500 voices singing together is definitely something the audience will enjoy.”

Besides the mass “Hope for Resolution,” which will feature guest musician Corliss Johnson of Brookings, S.D., on soprano saxophone, each of the school choirs will perform a few numbers separately.

“My sixth-graders — there are close to 80 of them — will sing ‘Phone Tag,’ which incorporates ‘Hello, My Baby’ back and forth between the girls’ and guys’ sections,” Anderson said. “They’ll also do ‘I’ve Got the Music and the Music’s in Me,’ and both of those will have choreography with them.”

Anderson’s 90-plus seventh graders are scheduled to sing “Jamaican Marketplace” and “Swing Down, Chariot.”

“They are working on singing in three parts, which is saying something for seventh-graders,” Anderson said. “They’re doing a good job with it.”

A Czech folk tune that the eighth-graders will sing, “Stodola Pumpa,” is “fast and very oompah-esque,” according to Anderson, and that group of more than 100 students will also deliver the Latin-flavored “Uma Familia.”

“After Monday’s concert, it’s full forward to Christmas,” noted Anderson, alluding to the WMS Dec. 16 “Festival of Music” concert. “I’ve enjoyed the students this fall — they’re very energetic, and I’ve noticed there was a lot of growth in their maturity over the summer, which is appreciated.”

Johnson’s 47-member Trojan Choir, largely comprised of freshmen, is set to sing “Homeward Bound” and the African spiritual “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning.”

Her 78-voice Concert Choir is primed to sing the contemporary “No Time,” as well as another piece with South African roots, “Freedom Is in Your Hands.”

“And partly because the Concert Choir will be participating in the 111th annual St. Olaf Choral Festival on Nov. 3, they’ll be singing ‘Wake, Awake’ by legendary St. Olaf composer and director F. Melius Christiansen,” Johnson reported.

“I wanted to acquaint the kids with some of Minnesota’s choral history,” she explained.

With Monday’s concert, and the Nov. 3 St. Olaf engagement followed immediately by the Southwest Choral Festival on Nov. 4 (hosted this year in Windom), Johnson’s student vocalists will be kept busy and musically engaged.

“That’s partly why we haven’t done the St. Olaf choral festival before, because it always falls right before the Southwest Choral Festival,” Johnson said. “But being invited to sing (at St. Olaf) as a solo choir, as we were this year, was an opportunity we just couldn’t turn down.”

Both Johnson and Anderson believe the mass “Hope for Resolution” could be a concert highlight.

“If it works, it will be brilliant and beautiful,” said a laughing Anderson, who requests that parents deliver their middle school singers to WHS by 5:45 p.m. Monday for the mass choir rehearsal — the one time the WMS and WHS vocalists will have to practice the piece as a single unit.

Suggested Anderson, “I would hope people can imagine how hard it is to get hundreds of voices singing together, but it’s the closest thing to heaven you’ll get on earth when it’s done well.”

The combined Worthington Middle School/Worthington High School fall choral concert will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHS gymnasium, 1211 Clary St., Worthington. There is a fee, and District 518 activity passes will also be honored.