Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fox Cities Choral Music Festival

Last night’s Seventh Annual Choral Music Festival was truly a pleasant evening of talented directors and singers from area high schools. Emcee, James Heiks, Appleton Area School District Fine Arts Coordinator, reminded the audience of the necessity for “focus,” a requirement for a production of this kind. Focus was evident and the audience was appreciative of that and the effort of every participant.

The start-off choir was that of Appleton North High School. The dedicated director of this group of 18 males and 33 females, Craig Aamot, also accompanied the choir on piano and drum. The rhythm was readily accepted by the appreciative audience as we tapped our way through their three unique selections. Especially noteworthy was the unusual use of several girls playing stringed instruments as a prelude to the singing.

The second choir, directed by Thomas Walter, was from Menasha High School. While the first choir appeared in all black and white, this choir appeared in black and white spruced up by multicolored sashes, including the director over his tuxedo. The choir consisted of 22 females and nine males. Their claim to fame were the three Geisha girls dressed in kimonos with fans moving the air to the beat of the music, including a song written by a choir director in Slovakia performed for the first time in America last night.

Then the choir from Winneconne High School took the stage with 30 females and seven males, one of whom was a terrific soloist. Surprisingly, they were accompanied by a little instrumental combo with a flute, violin, guitars, drum, castanets, and a piano, adding depth and interest to their selections. The choreography was outstanding and entertaining. Kathy Alan directs this talented group of future stars, appearing in traditional red choir robes.

The program closed with all of the choirs combined and directed by guest conductor Dr. Jo Ann Miller from South Dakota State University. Dr. Miller spent an hour at each school and then brought the group together for two hours of practice and produced an excellent big choir sound.

There wasn’t a song I didn’t enjoy and we left the auditorium smiling and tapping our toes. If you didn’t get a chance to see the Festival this year, watch for its return next fall when three different schools will appear separately and joined under the direction of another distinguished guest director.

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