Going national

High school choir members headed to Boston to perform

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Moffat County High School choir director Noelle Winn's chamber and jazz choirs have their work cut out for them this spring.

On April 20, she plans to take a group of 29 students to Boston for the Heritage Music Festival, a rigorous choir competition that will be no cakewalk if her choirs hope to rank highly next to choral groups from across the U.S. and Canada.

"This will be the biggest thing they've ever experienced," Winn said about her students.

The chamber choir is busy practicing songs such as the English musical "Sing We and Chant It," which they plan to perform at the Boston festival. The choirs' final test performance before departing will be the spring concert at 7 p.m. April 11 at the MCHS auditorium. The concert will include all of the bands and choirs from the high school and Craig Middle School and will showcase a wide variety of music, from 16th century madrigals to 20th century jazz.

"The spring concert should get them performance-ready for the bigger concert," Winn said.

Fortunately, MCHS has a few veteran singers who know how a superb choir should sound.

Junior David McClellan was one of three local singers to participate in the All-State Choir program in February in Fort Collins.

"All-state was awesome. It was definitely worth the effort it took to get there," said David McClellan. "We were singing with 100 people there. There's only about 30 here. With that size, there's a sound that's so much more full."

"It was a lot of work, but it was awesome to be able to work with the directors we did," added David's older brother and fellow all-state men's choir member, Robert.

In addition to February's all-state concert, 11 members from Winn's choirs were selected from statewide auditions to attend the Western Slope Honor Choir earlier this month March at Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison.

"That was fun, too. We had better music and a better director with clinicians from around the country," said Laurel Luke, all-state and Western Slope choir member.

Although using the talented all-state trio and the eight other recognized singers to add to the choirs' competition savvy has been key, raising the money to fund the trip to Boston has been an equally challenging task, Winn said.

"We've done a bunch of fundraisers. We did a big benefit dinner and a whole lot of cheesecake sales," she said.

Winn estimates that the cost for the flight, lodging, competition and sightseeing fees will cost each student $852.

"I worked all summer waiting tables at River Ridge to make sure I had enough money to go," David McClellan said.

There's a tangible air of anxious excitement in Winn's chamber choir class in anticipation for the trip to Boston.

"It will be interesting to see all the sights. ... This will be the first time going to the East Coast for pretty much everybody, first time on an airplane for some people," McClellan said.

After the pressure of the Boston competition subsides, Winn will return with her students and perform the final culminating concert of the 2006 school year with the Extravaganza Concert on May 16, featuring all of Winn's middle school and high school choirs.

"It should be a little easier for them," Winn said. "It's more fun and lighter than what they're doing now. It's a hero's tribute with a patriotic theme."

Until then, Winn's students are working hard to ensure that their April 11 concert is a display of their promising vocal skills and a quality preview of their big day in the national spotlight.

Dave Shively can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or dshively@craigdailypress.com.

What: Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School spring concert

When: 7 p.m. April 11

Where: MCHS auditorium, 900 Finley Lane

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