Ottawa High School’s Chamber Choir will be among the state’s elite when it performs at the Kansas Music Educators Association state convention in February.
Ottawa was one of nine high school choirs selected to perform at this year’s convention, Feb. 22-24, at the Century II Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita.
Lori Underwood, OHS vocal music teacher, said this was an outstanding achievement.
“It is a mountaintop experience for these high school kids,” Underwood said. “It is really neat.”
Ottawa is set to perform 4 p.m. Feb. 22, the first day of the convention. The other high school groups performing are Hays, Olathe East, Olathe South, Blue Valley North, Blue Valley Southwest, Blue Valley West, Shawnee Mission South and Topeka West.
Underwood submitted an audition of last year’s choir. She said a group cannot audition unless their director thinks like they are in position to compete.
“It is something I have been watching the past couple of years and talked about it in the past,” Underwood said. “This past year, I had several college professors and colleagues that said ‘that group is singing collegiate level music and doing all these things wonderfully, you should submit them.’ I decided to audition them. The actual group that did the audition was our previous year. It is up to the next year’s students to live up to that. I was lucky the majority of our group did return. This is the biggest honor you will have while you are in the high school choral music department. Not only to be selected to it, we are the smallest school being represented in the choirs that are singing.”
Underwood found out in early August Ottawa was chosen to sing at the convention. The group of 19 singers have been practicing since the first of the school year. Underwood said the group will perform six songs.
“We are fine turning and doing all the detail work,” Underwood said. “These numbers I chose are pretty tough pieces. They are upper high school and collegiate level songs. We are doing a couple in Latin. We have a nice mix of different songs that tell stories. That is what we named our program “every song tells a story.”
Underwood said it has been neat to watch this group grow together. She said some filled in the voids left by last year’s graduation and others have stepped into leadership roles.
“As a teacher, you try to groom them in that direction, but when you see them take off and do it on their own, that is such a huge reward for me,” Underwood said. “They have grown together as friends. They sing together and their hearts beat together. It is a really wonderful thing to watch.”
Underwood said the public can hear the same program they will sing in Wichita at its spring concert in March.
She said the students also will sing some of the same songs during the state music festival in April.
The convention will be three days of clinics, workshops and other sessions for music educators, Underwood said. World-renowned clinicians are brought in to lead these sessions, and teachers and professors are also invited to submit topics for sessions.
On the final day of convention, students who have made the all-state honor choir, concert bands, jazz band or orchestra and who have been rehearsing over the three days with the “best of the best” from Kansas will present their concerts, Underwood said.