New York bound
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - To perform in Carnegie Hall it takes practice, practice, passing an audition and more practice, along with fundraising and more fundraising.
Published: October 4, 2012
Published: October 4, 2012
About 40 members of the Sebring High Varsity Choir are practicing and fundraising as they look ahead for an experience of a lifetime.
With an estimated cost of $1,475 plus a recommended $200 for food money, fundraising is a high priority and will be a continuing effort for students who want to make the five-day trip to New York on Feb. 28 through March 4.
Sebring High Choir Director Luanne Hawk started Wednesday's class with the last-minute details of the choir's bake sale fundraiser, which will be held during Saturday's Run to the Heartland event in downtown Sebring.
Then Hawk leaned over the piano and played a few reference notes for the choir and counted down to start the first practice selection, "Weep, Oh Mine Eyes," a renaissance madrigal piece.
Say "crown," she said.
After Hawk demonstrated how to sing the word and gave direction on where to place the emphasis, the students said the word again.
That's a better "crown," Hawk said.
When the students completed the song, she explained, "It's all melodic lines — no piano part — very smooth rhythm and it's all about expressing the text. It's a sad song."
After class Hawk said they were fixing the vowel.
"If they want to sound in tune, they all have to sing exactly the same vowel shape," she said.
Every person pronounces words a little differently and that's kind of a characteristic of them, but in choir you have to match your neighbor and that's a hallmark of good choral singing, Hawk said. It takes constant practice and lots of listening and adjusting to hear it lock in.
It's like focusing a camera; if it's close, it's "close but no cigar," she said. There is a big difference in the sound when it is truly focused.
Seniors Olivia Hitt and Andrew Baldridge had never been to a major city before their trip to New York with the choir in 2011.
"It's a really neat experience," Baldridge said. "It kind of shocks you, not when you get there, but the day before and the day of the concert. It's kind of overwhelming."
It's a culture shock coming from a small town and never having been out of the state, he said.
Hitt said the trip was extremely exciting because it's so big.
"I am in the theater so seeing that Broadway show that we go to, it was really inspiring because it was so big and people work so hard up there to get what they want and to accomplish their dreams."
They saw "The Lion King" in 2011.
"So we were really excited to see what they are doing with the costumes and the music," Hitt said.
They kicked off the fundraising effort selling frozen cookie dough and pretzels, and are selling Yankee Candles through Oct. 15.
Choral Assistant Ramon Severn noted this is the ninth year that Sebring High students will be performing at Carnegie Hall.
They audition every other year, and have been accepted each time, for the National Honor Choir, she said. On Monday they received the list of music the students will be rehearsing for the March 3 Carnegie Hall performance.
Hawk said it's worth working hard for the trip because of the musical experience, the quality of the directors and, since it's an honor choir, the quality of the other students.
Florida State University Director of Choral Activities Andre J. Thomas will be directing the National Honors Choir, she noted.
Also, students get to experience the culture in New York — seeing museums, seeing the Statute of Liberty and standing in the hallowed building where so much great music has been made, Hawk said.
The choir is invited to sing in many other major cities, she said, "But I always choose New York because New York is still our cultural capital."
Now when it is really tough to raise all this money, the community is still supporting these students, Hawk said.
She was concerned two years ago, but the students who worked hard and tried their best got to go.
After the students have been to New York they always say they want to go back, Hawk said.
The choir will present its winter concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the South Florida State College Theatre for the Performing Arts. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
For more information, go to www.sebringhighschoolchorus.org or go to the Facebook fan page at Sebring High School Chorus.
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