Choral tunes echo throughout the Covington Center

The high school choral invitational held in Performance Hall at the Covington Center in October.
The high school choral invitational held in Performance Hall at the Covington Center in October.

Classical choral tunes echoed through the Performance Hall at the Covington Center when the Department of Music at Radford University hosted a high school choral invitational in October.

The invitational, open to high school students from across the Commonwealth of Virginia, featured Michigan State University Professor of Choral Conducting and Music Education Sandra Snow. The Radford chapter of the American Choral Directors Association also observed and supported the participants.

As part of the program, both Radford University students and high school students were divided into groups to foster a creative and supportive environment. The students worked hands-on with Snow during the invitational.

“All the students responded to her very well,” said Meredith Bowen, choral director at Radford University. “Working with somebody other than your high school teacher and somebody who is saying basically the same thing that your teacher is saying, but in a different way, is very beneficial for students."

As part of the outreach event, each of the eight choirs sang two pieces in front of Snow and subsequently worked on each piece with her.

“[Snow] was really good about involving everyone in the room,” Bowen said. “She did a great job of emphasizing why everyone was there and how to make the most beautiful sounds possible. She reinforced best choral practices, vocal production and warm-ups.”

Additionally, Radford University singers sang “If Ye Love Me” by Thomas Tallis, “Wanting Memories” by Ysaye Barnwell and “Desh” by Ethan Sperry before all of the attendees.

The success of the first iteration of the event led Bowen to consider ways to continue improving upon the event and transform it into a three-year cycle in which year one involves soprano, alto, tenor and bass groups working with the commission; year two involves strictly bass and tenor singers; and year three is solely treble singers.

“Next year I want to invite all of the changed bass voices in the area to sing all day with a clinician and then hold an event the following year for treble singers,” Bowen said. “That way, we bring in a clinician every year and provide an educational outreach and a recruiting event for the Department of Music.

“There are many schools that don’t have a high number of tenors or basses in their classes – imagine being in a room filled with 200 tenors and basses. That would be an incredible experience,” Bowen continued. “I would really like to provide that because it is a powerful environment.”

Nov 10, 2017
Max Esterhuizen