The voices of nearly 250 high school students filled the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall on Oct. 27 for the 12th annual University of Indianapolis High School Choral Invitational Festival. Six high schools come to UIndy each year to perform in front of the university’s choral department and members of the public.
Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities Paul Krasnovsky organizes and hosts the event each year. He said that he began the annual event in hopes that high school students will enhance their musical abilities.
Each choir performed for approximately 10 minutes in front of their peers and three other directors from around the country. These visiting directors listened to the performances and analyzed each choir, according to Krasnovsky. After each performance, one of the directors came onstage and assisted in directing the choir. The visiting director also filled out a form critiquing the performance.
“It [the invitational] is an opportunity to hear what everyone else is doing [in the field],” Krasnovsky said. “For the directors who come, it’s really great….they get very excited because they will hear new pieces.”
The invitational allows students to perfect skills that benefit them after they have left. They are provided a professional recording of their performance so they can make adjustments based on what they hear. Another helpful aspect of the event is that unlike most other musical performances, Krasnovsky said. The invitational is not competitive and gives high school students an opportunity to perform in a college performance hall with their peers.
“It’s a way to help grow the high school students,” freshman music therapy major Amy DeVault said. “It shows them that there is music out of high school.”
Krasnovsky said when he first started the event back in 2007 he was amazed at the amount of positive feedback he received. Since 1994, the High School Choral Invitational Festival and the Indiana Choral Directors Association has helped put the university on the map and made it well-known according to Krasnovsky.
“We have a responsibility to do this kind of outreach,” Krasnovsky said. “Everybody in every department through the whole university does these things [recruitment events], so we use our knowledge, our experience to offer assistance to our colleagues in high schools and that’s what the whole thing is about.”
Along with performing in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, the high school students had lunch on campus and received a tour of the campus coordinated through the Office of Admissions, which Krasnovsky said has helped boost interest in the university.
“Our admissions office tells me that they are flooded with requests for campus tours after the event because all the high school kids come here, and they say, ‘Oh, I want to go here.’” Krasnovsky said. “So even if they don’t come to be music majors, they come and study occupational therapy or study engineering, so it’s a great recruiting tool for our university.”
This year’s high school students finished their day by listening to UIndy choral students perform and then joined them for a collaborative piece. Krasnovsky said the interactive aspect of the event is wonderful for students at the university because some of their former high school choirs come to perform.
“It works very, very well because a lot of people get to meet a lot of people and that makes it a really cool event,” Krasnovsky said. “As I said, there are no winners, no competition, it’s just an opportunity for everybody to get together in a really good environment.”