Student singers prepare to take state stage

MCHS choirs asked to perform at gubernatorial inauguration Tuesday

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Sophomore Andrew Field got some unexpected news Thursday morning.

Moffat County High School choir director Julie Rustand informed him and the other 25 jazz and chamber choir students that they have been invited to perform Tuesday at Governor-elect Bill Ritter's inauguration in Denver.

"I was like, 'Wow.' I would have never expected a little jazz choir in Craig would get to go sing for the governor," Field said.

Rustand was shocked, too.

"I feel as if it's such an honor," Rustand said. "This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Ritter's swearing-in ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the west steps of the state Capitol. Moffat County students will sing for 15 to 20 minutes and have their photo taken with Ritter.

Moffat County is one of four choirs to perform at the inauguration, and one of two high school groups. West High School in Denver, Trinidad Community Chorale and the Colorado State University Chamber Singers also perform Tuesday.

"I don't know how we got selected, but of course I'm just jumping at the opportunity to go," Rustand said.

Ritter aide Laura Chapin said Ritter and Lt. Governor-elect Barbara O'Brien visited Craig several times during their campaign, and Ritter wanted to have representation from different regions in the state.

"It was very important to the governor-elect to have people from all over the state at the inauguration," Chapin said.

The Moffat County choirs will perform "An American Tribute," "Measure Me Sky" and "This Little Light of Mine" together. The jazz choir will sing "Buffalo Gals," and the chamber choir will sing "She Walks in Beauty."

The students will leave "at the crack of dawn" Tuesday, Rustand said, and return Tuesday night. On the way home, students will stop for lunch and shopping.

"This is going to be so cool and so exciting to be singing for the governor," said junior Samantha Smith, who is a member of both participating choirs.

She said she is nervous about performing for such a large crowd.

"This is a really big event," Smith said. "But I know it will turn out to be amazing in the end."

Rustand said performing at an important Colorado milestone is a wonderful opportunity for her students.

"It'll be great for them to put on their list of accomplishments someday," Rustand said.

She heard word of the invitation Wednesday and is now hustling to prepare her students for the performance.

"Six days isn't a lot of time to prepare," Rustand said. "It's short notice, but I feel like we can't pass up an opportunity like this."

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