Making music together is as natural as talking together. It’s one of the many ways we bond as a species. I had the good fortune of being part of a wonderful choral experience in Central Pennsylvania this past weekend – the District IV Chorus, hosted by my new friends, Peg Boozel and Nanette Thomas. Mount Union High School, Peg’s home base, hosted the event. over 180 high school students from several counties took part in this multifaceted event.
The audience sees a polished performance and a smiling guest conductor. What they don’t see…
- Countless hours of practice time by the students.
- Countless hours of practice time led by the educators of the District.
- Volunteers organizing housing for well over 160 students from schools too far away for the students to go home.
- Volunteers and cafeteria workers mobilized to feed an EXTRA 180 plus people during regular school days.
- The local folks who housed all of these students.
- Countless hours of planning and organizing and adjusting and sacrificing by the educators of the District.
- The teamwork among these professionals – and not just choral educators! The band director at Mount Union was right there looking out for his colleague’s back.
- Meeting upon meeting upon meeting at the event to insure a seamless flow and plan future events!
- The willingness of the host school’s students to help their teacher with any task.
It was amazing to watch this well-oiled machine work. And with all the challenges that mother nature threw at the District IV teachers – it was AMAZING how quickly they adjusted their collective batting stance without losing a beat (see what I did there? Mixed music and sports jargon!). This festival was scheduled to run from Wednesday night until Saturday morning. Due to weather, it became Thursday morning until Friday night. Phone calls were made to keep everyone informed of the changes. These teachers work together to benefit their students – and many of them do it at a personal cost (some have to pay for their own subs back at their home schools!).
Despite the curve balls and the reduced rehearsal time, the students offered their music with selfless hearts and unbound joy. They gave honestly, honoring the composers (two of which were present!), each other, and the audience. It was my pleasure to be part of their journey.
Weather couldn’t stop the choral art in District IV. And those in attendance left transformed by the students’s collective gift. They saw the very tip of a huge iceberg, an iceberg made of selfless hard work by a group of people I am proud to call my colleagues.
Many thanks to Joseph Gregorio for Frog went a courtin’, Peter de Mets for Blessings, Ethan Sperry for Desh, Paul Basler for “Psalm 23“, Gwyneth Walker for The Dreamers of Dreams, Susie Gardner for Oh What a Pretty Little Baby, Brad Holmes for Noel, Marty Sedek for He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven, and of course – Mozart, Jack Halloran, and Randall Thompson for their beautiful music!
If you don’t know these folks, get to know them now!