Moving forward with its tenth year of coaching and recruitment, the tenth annual High School Choral Invitational Festival hosted by the University of Indianapolis music department lasted through the morning into the afternoon on Oct. 29 in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. The festival gives high school choirs the opportunity to perform non-competitively for an audience of other choirs, parents and friends in the renowned acoustical environment of the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall in CDFAC, according to Professor of Music Paul Krasnovsky.
Krasnovsky developed the idea from a friend of his ten years prior of hosting the invitational at UIndy.
“I’ve got a good friend of mine named Kent Hatteberg, a super brilliant conductor at the University of Louisville,” Krasnovsky said. “Whenever anyone likes to make you think that they are creative—to the point where they come up with these fresh, new ideas—we all stand on the shoulders of our colleagues. Kent Hatteberg had me down to the University of Louisville to judge a choral invitational that he had. I went down there for this and thought, ‘Wow! This is great! I’m going to do that at my school.’”
High school choirs invited to sing at the festival included the South Decatur High School Cougar Company, Guerin Catholic High School Cecilia, Avon High School Festival Chorus, Martinsville High School Festival Chorus, Perry Meridian High School Then & Now Choir, Covenant Christian High School Chamber Chorus and Greenwood High School Rhapsody. Clinicians asked to work with each choir included Director of Indianapolis Youth Chorale Mary Rinck Evers, Assistant Professor of Music and Naus Family Faculty Scholar at Miami University Jeremy D. Jones and UIndy Assistant Professor of Music at Mitzi Westra.
According to Krasnovsky, the tenth annual invitational brought in the most successful numbers in attendance of 320 students in addition to parents and teachers.
A schedule was provided to those performing with choirs in the morning, lunch at noon, campus tours, more choirs in the early afternoon and a performance from the Vocal Chamber Choir of UIndy, Schola.
“There’s a specific format that we follow, and that is eight choirs. I planned it that way because I think making people show up to things at seven in the morning is horrible! We’re singers, and singers don’t like to sing that early in the morning. They really don’t,” Krasnovsky said. “The size of our concert hall is a major factor, we seat 500 people. . . . You don’t want to have more than eight choirs there or else it would become totally unmanageable so the number of eight works very well for us.”
While each choir received 10 minutes of stage time to perform a set of songs, the clinicians invited to workshop their assigned choirs took notes to be able to coach each choir to the best of their ability using the 10 to 15 minutes they were allotted.
“All three of us had a different approach. It’s triage. It’s ‘what do you hear that most needs fixing?’ If there is a flabby sound or a disinterested sound, I would probably work on focus and getting them to be awake by maybe doing something physical,” Westra said. “When I worked with Perry Meridian, a pretty well put-together group, I started getting a little more in-depth with [vocal] colors and things like that, because they knew their stuff.”
Of the eight choirs that performed, Westra workshopped with two of them including the Avon High School Festival Chorus, made up of 34 mixed voices, and the Perry Meridian High School Then & Now Choir, made up of 35 mixed voices. Avon High School’s choir had two pieces of music in its 10 minute set: “Gloria (from Coronation Mass in C Major, K. 317), by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and “Noel, ” by Todd Smith, arranged by Brad Holmes. Perry Meridian High School’s choir had three pieces of music in its 10 minute set: “All Too Soon,” a traditional Celtic tune arranged by Stephen Hatfield; “Somewhere,” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by William Stickles; and “Go Where I Send Thee,” arranged by Andre Thomas.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra will perform on Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.