"Choir Ready For Today's Competition"
Sunday, May 2, 1999
By Jan Horgen, Of The Globe-Gazette
WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was late Saturday afternoon when the Mason City High School Concert Choir members stepped into the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
From the rooftop cafe, the view of Washington was remarkable, setting the stage for their performance today in the National Invitation Choral Festival.
Just being invited to the festival was an honor, said several of the 78-member choral group. But this festival is about more than "just singing" for this talented group of teen-agers.
A year ago, they set their sights on Washington, D.C., and the Kennedy Center stage. Today, they realize that goal and hope to go another step - by finishing in the top eight of this prestigious field, which includes 28 choirs from the United States and Canada.
"It's just amazing to think about singing on the Kennedy Center stage where so many famous performers have performed," Lindsay Van Den Bosch said.
The words amazing, incredible and unbelievable have become common phrases during the trip. Months of demanding rehearsals and grueling performance schedules have added to the intensity of the choir and their director, Joel Everist.
"Remember, if we go in focused and relaxed, it's ours," said Everist, with the confidence of someone who knows that one of the nationally renowned panel of judges, Anton Armstrong, a music professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., was instrumental in getting the MCHS group into the festival.
After spending Friday evening in rehearsal, senior Lauren Lundberg was more than impressed with Armstrong's directing.
"He can just pull you into the music," he said. "And he has this ability to portray the spiritual side of the music and to pull that feeling out as we sing."
Lundberg and three classmates - Sherri Oetken, Bart Meinke and Sarah Moreau - will sing with the Festival Chamber Choir, a select choir comprised of four vocalists from each of the schools participating.
Moreau also was impressed with Armstrong after spending several hours practicing with five of the directors who will be judging the festival.
"Just working with these directors is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Moreau said. "Each one has their own special area and they demand quality."
And quality is what the Mason City High singers intend to deliver.
"We have the voices and we've been working for a long, long time for this," said Moreau, adding that the nervous flutter she feels will only add to the performance.
The MCHS Concert Choir performance will include a variety of music from I Gondolieri by Rossini to CAntique by Faure to a modern selection, Bandari: Inside These Walls by Iowa composer Ben Allaway.
There will be a mass choir performance Monday night before a capacity audience at the Kennedy Center Opera House and an awards presentation to the top competitors.
*This copyrighted article and photographs are reprinted with the permission of The Globe Gazette and are not to be reproduced.*