Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Honors Choirs Voices Concert - A Song Sung Well

We had a phenomenal Honors Choir concert Sunday afternoon. All the choirs did a great job. The concert was even more impressive given they had missed several practices due to weather. The theme of the concert was the "Music of the Stage and Screen". They had some really cool renditions of  "Green Eggs and Ham", "Rock Island", "The Sun with Come Out Tomorrow" and "Some Where Over the Rainbow". These were my favorites.

When I was sitting in the audience I was thinking about what  makes the Honors Choir experience so powerful for the singers. Is it just the joy of "a song sung well" or is it something more?


Passion is a word applied to a very intense enthusiasm or positive affinity towards a subject or group. It was very clear that each of the directors is very passionate about their students and their music. That passion is translated into excellence in instruction, in choice of music, amazing performances and in quality relationships with their singers. This passion makes for great concerts, but even more than technical excellence it makes an indelible mark on the singer. Choir becomes a truly life changing experience.


The directors are training a new generation of choral leadership. Honors Choir is a "with me" experience  through which the younger singers learn the grammar of choral music. Especially for the youngest singers, there is no where else in our community that their choral efforts can yield such success. This foundation of musical skills builds year by year and song by song. It is challenging and fun, the children may not even realize how much they have learned and grown musically. We as parents are impressed with the quality of their music for those who are so young.  It is not that we don't believe that these young children can achieve this level of excellence, we see that they can, but we are astonished at the achievment because it is so "uncommon" in the culture today and we are thankful for Amy and Bill Nelson's counter cultural excellence.

I am impressed with leadership in the Chorale Choir (middle school) and Concert Choir (High School). I see young women drawn to the artistic challenge and beauty of choral music. My daughter is a senior in high school and the highlight of her week is the Honors Choirs rehearsals and performances. She always comes home happy and energized. The directors have also been able to reach out and draw in young men from across the community into the choral music experience. This is a tremendous accomplishment, I counted 28 young men in the middle school choir Sunday afternoon, this is over 30% of the choir (there is about the same ratio in the high school choir). This is truly amazing, because at this age they wouldn't be there if they didn't want to be. What challenges them to work on truly excellent music and want to dig deep for a quality performance? What draws them away from the lure of video games, TV and going to the mall with their friends? It is musical leadership, it is positive role modeling and it is personal mentorship from Nick Johnson and Rick Kvam.


We may never know how many future music leaders come out of the honors choirs experience. Those who seek music degrees are obvious, but many will go on to sing or direct in their church or community choirs. Most will enroll their children in good music instruction and a few may also become patrons of the musical arts. They will do this because they were inspired by great directors, they cherish life long friendships with the other singers, and they are passionate about the joy of a song sung well.

We heard many "songs sung well" on Sunday, and that is why I think Honors Choirs rocks and why the Honors Choir experience is so powerful for each singer!

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