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Singing and supper: Choirs offer concert, preceded by spaghetti feed

Jordan Willi/Daily Globe WHS choral students frequently demonstrate their vocal skills by singing the National Anthem at District 518 athletic events, as this group did at last night's WHS football game at Trojan Field. These students, and hundreds more, will be in concert Monday night at the WHS gymnasium at 7 p.m.

WORTHINGTON -- There will be power in numbers -- and powerful singing -- Monday evening at the Worthington High School (WHS) gymnasium when the WHS and Worthington Middle School (WMS) join forces for a fall concert at 7 p.m.

Prior to the concert, the WHS choir members will host a spaghetti feed fundraiser from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the WHS cafeteria, as the high school vocalists anticipate a late March tour to New York City.

"Cindy (Anderson) and I were talking last year and realized there weren't many chances for our kids to get together and sing across the board," said Kerry Johnson, WHS choir director. "So this Monday we'll feature the sixth- through 12th-grade curricular choral groups, all of whom will perform a combined number to end the concert."

That number -- the aptly named "Why We Sing" -- will display three soloists from various grades -- sixth-grader Adrianna Engler, 10th-grader Bailey Bruns and Jeremy Majerus, a WHS junior.

"The groups will be beautiful together, and it should be an amazing experience," said Cindy Anderson, the long-time WMS choir director. "You know, the orchestras and bands have had concerts like this for years, with the different grade levels all in one place, and you get to see the natural progression from beginner to advanced.

"That's what I'm really looking forward to."

Anderson also mentioned she finds it fun to hear her former choir students sing.

"We have over 290 middle school choir students this year," she added.

Johnson oversees 138 WHS choral students this fall. Most of them previously sang in Anderson's WMS choirs, and 105 of them have signed up for the March 25-30, 2013, trip to New York that Johnson began organizing early last spring.

"It's been quite some time since the full high school choral program has had a chance to travel like this, and I felt it was time to include that back into what we do," Johnson said. "My goal is to do a major trip like this about every four years so students will have the opportunity to go at least once during their high school careers."

Besides seeing many Big Apple tourist attractions -- Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, the Empire State Building and Times Square, to name several -- the choir will sing at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which Johnson says is "acoustically one of the best places in the United States to sing."

"This will expand their musical experiences, and they will get to see a Broadway show, as well as music icons like Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall," listed Johnson.

"We will also participate in a 'Making Music' workshop with cast members of the Broadway 'Mary Poppins' show," she said. "It should be a really fun experience, and we're building these musical moments into the other things you must see in New York."

To help students afford the trip, Johnson has already coordinated a frozen food fundraiser, and Monday night's spaghetti feed is another chance to help the high schoolers cover their expenses.

"All the proceeds from the spaghetti feed will go to the students, because we've had generous sponsors -- Hy-Vee, plus parents Dale and Kathy Solt -- who have provided all of the food," Johnson said.

Garlic bread and salad will round out the classic Italian meal, with tickets available for purchase either at the door or in advance from student choir members.

Come concert time -- with or without garlic breath -- Johnson's Trojan Choir will sing "Celebrate Music," while her Concert Choir students will perform "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

Anderson's sixth-graders are slated to sing the spiritual "Sit Down," as well as the jazzy "Blue Notes," while her seventh-grade choir will deliver "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Choo Choo Cha Boogie."

The Beatles' classic "Here Comes the Sun" will fall to the eighth-grade choir, along with "All the Pretty Little Horses" -- what Anderson calls a "jazzy lullaby."

"I'm very excited to combine with the high school choirs for this concert," Anderson said.

Johnson endorsed, "If you're lucky enough to work with these kids every day, and you see how hard they try to perfect their craft, it's great when the community can see and experience that also."

Johnson makes the effort to have her choral students share their skills by frequently singing the National Anthem at District 518 athletic events, and many of them lend their voices to other local musical efforts, such as church choirs, community theater and the winter high school musical.

After Monday's concert, upcoming dates of interest for the WHS choirs include the Southwest Choral Festival (this year in Jackson on Nov. 5), plus the annual Madrigal dinner performances (scheduled for Dec. 7 and 8 at Memorial Auditorium).

"There's a broad range of kids with a wide background of interests involved in choir, and these kids branch out into all areas of the high school program," attested Johnson.

"It's good for the younger kids to see that they, too, can keep singing during high school, and this concert is valuable exposure for that purpose," Johnson continued.

"Music is something you can carry throughout your life; it doesn't have to stop at any particular age level."

The Worthington High School and Worthington Middle School choirs are in concert Monday at 7 p.m. at the WHS gymnasium; admission will be charged, and District 518 activity passes will be honored. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner will be served in the WHS cafeteria; tickets may be purchased at the door, or in advance from a WHS choir student. Children 5 and younger eat for free. All proceeds benefit the WHS choirs. For more information, contact WHS from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 376-6121.