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Journal Writing Project: Celebrating music making

By Kristina Mengis

Fri, Jan 18th, 2013
Posted in All Journal Student Writing Project

Music brings people together. Whether it’s coming together as fans of the same genre or actually coming together to make music, it is able to accomplish wonderful things. Like someone once said, “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit.”

I spent this past weekend at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, at their Dorian Vocal Festival. I have always had a passion for music, but I still didn’t really know what to expect when arriving at Luther on Saturday afternoon. I’ll admit I was nervous, and I really wasn’t sure I should be there.

This year was the 63rd annual festival. Twelve-hundred high school students attended this year’s festival. The students came from all across Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and South Dakota. To some people, the thought of that many high school students in one room would maybe be frightening. These aren’t just any students, though. They all had one goal: to make beautiful music. Although some appeared to be there more for the opportunity to explore the campus and meet new people, the end result proved that they were all joined in a common interest for music.

The festival began on Saturday with the arrival of the students in the Chamber Choir. The Chamber choir was composed of 100 students who were specially selected from the Festival Choir to perform three separate songs. Many of these students had previously participated in honor choirs or had been selected to perform in their state’s All-State choir. These students spent Saturday practicing and also got the opportunity to listen to Luther’s Nordic Choir. I was very fortunate and honored to be selected for the Chamber Choir, along with my friend Morgan. After spending eight hours rehearsing together, it’s hard not to feel connected with the people around you.

On Sunday, the rest of the members of the Festival Choir arrived for rehearsals. The day ended with a concert for the students and a dance. Many students also had auditions in hopes of being chosen to perform a solo during the grand concert or to receive a scholarship. Monday’s rehearsals were to fix the last few spots that needed work. On Monday night there was a grand concert for the students’ families and the public. It took place in Luther’s Center for Faith and Life auditorium. The students filled the seats and folding chairs that covered the floor of the auditorium, while the guests sat in the balcony.

Before the concert was about to begin, the students decided to have some fun while waiting for the Nordic Choir to begin. They guys decided to start a wave and eventually the whole choir joined in. They proceeded to start singing “We Will Rock You” and everyone clapped and stomped their feet. We also had a chorus of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song and many other fun little songs. A couple of guys actually got up in front and led everyone in actions that mimicked being on a rollercoaster. I think the audience was entertained by the fun we were having.

The concert began with a performance by Luther’s Nordic Choir under the direction of Dr. Allen Hightower. Five students were chosen to perform solos that they had already prepared with their directors. Next, the Chamber Choir performed their three songs. These songs included “The Boy Who Picked Up His Feet to Fly” by Joshua Shank, “The Water is Wide” arranged by Darmon Meador, and “Cert’nly Lawd” arranged by Moses Hogan. The Festival Choir ended the concert with five songs. They began with “Oh, Praise the Lord from the Heavens” by Pavel Chesnokov. The girls sang an Italian Opera piece called “O, Pastorelle, Addio” by Umberto Giordano and arranged by Emile H. Serposs. Next, the guys performed “The Pasture” by Z. Randall Stroope. The entire choir finished with “In Remembrance” by Jeffrey Ames and “Upon This Rock” by John Ness Beck. The ending of “Upon This Rock” included a section for the audience to join with the choir in singing. The Chamber Choir and Festival Choir were both conducted by Dr. Hightower, Dr. Sandra Peter, and Andrew Last. All accompaniment was done by Dr. Jessica Paul.

There were a total of ten students who participated in the festival from my school. I know many of them were also wary about what the festival would be like. By the end of the day, I know we all were glad to have made new friends and happy to have had such a great experience. Not only did we spend our weekend singing, we also had a lot of fun. There is something about making music with a large group that makes it different from normal choir experiences. It is a good feeling to come together and make beautiful music.

Kristina Mengis is a senior at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of 8 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its fourteenth year.

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