Students who take part in our choral department are given numerous opportunities to excel in the world of chorus. They have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, been selected to The National Association for Music Education All-National Honor Ensembles, taken place in The Quad State Honor Choir festival, and much more. A number of choral students are also regularly selected to the All Northwest Honor Choir each year. The chorus program is highly competitive as the teachers work to expound upon each student’s musical talents, so they are best prepared for performance of all types – from the local stage to the national arena.
We had 48 talented USJ Honor Choir students to perform yesterday at the All West Honor Choir Concert at West Jackson Baptist Church. It was a beautiful concert, and a memorable one for our seniors being as it was their last one.
From Left: Lily Richardson, Ethan Schlegel, Dian Eddleman (Choir Teacher), Keaton Miller and Meg Miller
This summer, two of our students received a once in a lifetime opportunity as they performed in the Honors Performance Series at the Sydney Opera House. Gabrielle Evans and Ethan Schlegel sang with 150 other students from around the world on August 4 in Sydney, Australia. Their journey began in September of last year when they sent in their audition packets, which included a vocal recording of a song from 24 Italian Songs & Arias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, a resume and a teacher referral from their choir director Dian Eddleman. In late October, Gabrielle and Ethan found out they would be participating in one of the four programs offered in the performance series; Young Adult Choir for ages 19 – 25, Orchestra, Band and High School Honor Choir. “I will never forget having the privilege to be on the infamous stage of the Sydney Opera House,” said Ethan Schlegel.
Their first couple of days were packed full of fun things for them to do in Australia. They were able to take a bus tour of Sydney, travel to The Rocks where they took a Ghost Tour, and then wrapped up the week on a yacht at the Sydney Harbor Bridge where they had dinner and a night filled with fun and dancing. “There were over 300 guests on the yacht that night, and we were all dancing and having a great time. It was my favorite thing from the entire trip,” said Gabrielle Evans. The last three days were filled with rehearsals that lasted over seven hours each day.
Dr. Lynne Gackle was the director of the High School Honor Choir. She wanted the students to focus on technique, but to be individually inspired by the music and let that show through their performance. “Dr. Gackle also encouraged each of us to get to know our neighbor and to be in tune with their singing,” Evans said.
“Australia might have been the best experience of my life! It was really a dream come true. Sydney is an incredibly gorgeous place; it is very safe, and everyone there is so nice,” said Ethan. The students were able to learn so much in such a short amount of time. They both were awestruck with the bonds that were formed so quickly, and how that affected their overall performance. In fact, while they were there the deadly shooting in El Paso occurred and, during the performance, they sang Psalm 23 and dedicated it to the victims since one of the students was from El Paso.
“The music was a testament to our hard work. It was a celebration of everyone, and to be in that place and to leave with something wonderful was the greatest experience of my life,” said Evans. This was such an incredible opportunity for our students, and we could not be more proud of their success.
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