WHS Concert Choir in Big South Choral Festival Monday

WORTHINGTON -- Nearly 80 singers from the Worthington High School (WHS) Concert Choir will join their peers from the choirs of Luverne, Blue Earth Area, St. James and Jackson County Central (JCC) at the 2017 Big South Choral Festival on Monday.

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Twelve upperclass members of the Worthington High School Concert Choir will represent the school on Monday in the honor choir at the Big South Choral Festival in Jackson. From left to right: Jacob Prunty (tenor), Max Langerud (bass), Pwe Ku (tenor), Chris Lee (bass), Smile Bu (tenor), Davis Moore (bass), Sarah Spieker (soprano), Natalie Demuth (alto), Kiana Bartley (soprano), Jamie Newman (alto), Jessica Darling (alto) and Anna Meyer (soprano). (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Nearly 80 singers from the Worthington High School (WHS) Concert Choir will join their peers from the choirs of Luverne, Blue Earth Area, St. James and Jackson County Central (JCC) at the 2017 Big South Choral Festival on Monday.


With JCC hosting, and JCC’s choral director Mason Meyer coordinating, the day will include a morning rehearsal for 60 honor choir students (12 from each participating school), followed by the various high school choirs performing for two guest clinicians in the afternoon.


A mass choir rehearsal will precede the culminating 6:30 p.m. concert in the JCC high school gymnasium.



“The choral festival offers an excellent opportunity for our choir students to be exposed to some of the great collegiate choral directors in the region, and to work with someone who gives them a different perspective on their music,” said Kerry Johnson, director of choral activities at WHS.


“They also get to hear the choirs from other schools and listen to pieces they might not have previously known.”


Roughly 400 students will be among the five choirs represented at JCC. Choirs from five other Big South Conference schools - Marshall, New Ulm, Pipestone, Redwood Valley and Windom - will congregate Monday at Windom for a similar festival experience.


Dr. Jennaya Robison, an assistant professor of music at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, will conduct the mass choir. The three mass choir numbers are “Come to the Music” by Joseph Martin, “Voces Lucis” by Andrea Ramsey and “Tres Cantos Nativos” by Marcos Leite.



“’Tres Cantos Nativos’ incorporates non-musical noises, like bird and jungle sounds, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before,” said Johnson. “It should be an interesting piece for the students to experience.”


Dyan Meyer, a music theory instructor at the University of Northern Iowa who earned a master’s degree in music performance with a choral conducting emphasis at Florida State University, is the honor choir director.


Meyer will lead the 60-voice select ensemble in the Moses Hogan-arranged “Elijah Rock” and Daniel Elder’s “Lullaby from Three Nocturnes,” both of which Johnson said her honor choir singers were enjoying.


“The honor choir usually features the more seasoned, mature singers from each school and gives them a chance to sing with other students of a similar caliber,” said Johnson.



“Whenever possible, we send seniors; sometimes we send juniors, but rarely are the honor choir members underclassmen.”


Through an audition process earlier in the fall, 12 WHS students were chosen for the Big South Honor Choir: sopranos Kiana Bartley, Anna Meyer and Sarah Spieker; altos Jessica Darling, Natalie Demuth and Jamie Newman; tenors Smile Bu, Pwe Ku and Jacob Prunty; and basses Max Langerud, Christipher Lee and Davis Moore.


Guest conductors Meyer and Robison will serve as the clinicians for the individual choirs, listening to songs the groups have been practicing and offering tips and critiques the choirs can then incorporate into their evening concert performances, and beyond.


The WHS Concert Choir will sing “Ubi Caritas” by Ola Gjeilo and “God Will Give Orders/Sweet Child” by Sarah Quartel, with Robison as their assigned clinician.


“This year’s scheduling has our first home concert occurring the Monday after the Big South Choral Festival, so it’s exciting we will get to work with a college choral director prior to that,” Johnson mentioned.


“We’ve been fortunate to have a little extra time to prepare, and that will be heard in the way the choirs sound.”


Johnson’s singers haven’t been completely out of the public eye by any means. Since late August, they’ve been turning up at WHS athletic events to sing the National Anthem, and those in the honor choir will perform at next Friday’s WHS Veterans Day program.


“The conference choral festival is always a highlight of the year for the area choirs,” said Johnson.


“It’s a terrific chance to join together and sing with lots of other young people.”


The Big South Choral Festival concert is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Jackson County Central High School, 1128 North Highway, Jackson. There is a concert admission fee.

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