PMEA District 9 Chorus makes up for lost time

The 2017 PMEA District 9 Chorus performed Friday at Marywood University, led by guest conductor, Dr. Rick Hoffenberg. Susquehanna Community hosted the festival. PHOTO BY PAT FARNELLI

The 2017 PMEA District 9 Chorus performed Friday at Marywood University, led by guest conductor, Dr. Rick Hoffenberg. Susquehanna Community hosted the festival. PHOTO BY PAT FARNELLI

Despite a Tuesday night ice storm and school closings for almost every district in the area Wednesday, The Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association District Chorus concert went off without a hitch on Friday evening. Although this is normally a three day festival, top vocalists from school districts assembled Thursday morning at Marywood University, auditioned for placement in Friday’s concert and for a chance at the regional concert, and then began rehearsal for the concert Friday night. This year’s festival was hosted by Susquehanna Community.
Teresa Marino, host director, spoke of her deep gratitude toward the PMEA officials, Marywood University staff, participating school choral directors, and especially student members of NAFME at Marywood University, who showed up and volunteered their
time and expertise even though college was not in session.
Marino said that without their efforts utter chaos could have ensued; but with their help, rehearsals moved forward in an expeditious manner.
Guest conductor, Dr. Rick Hoffenberg of Marywood, praised the students for mastering the many challenging selections through their practice prior to the festival.
Hoffenberg also recognized student accompanist, Eric Lee of Valley View High School. “Rarely have I had someone so skilled, so accomplished. Thank you for all your fine work,” he said.
The program opened with the gospel anthem “My God is a Rock,” arranged by Ken Berg, which featured soprano Artemesia Ashton of Holy Redeemer on a thrilling descant. This was followed by “Hail Gladdening Light” a third-century Greek hymn with music by Charles Wood, the teacher of famed choral composer Vaughan Williams.
“Wake, Awake,” the student audition piece, is a call for Jerusalem to wake for the coming of Christ.
“Sure on this Shining Night” is a poem by James Agee: “Sure on this shining night of starmade shadows round, kindness must watch for me this side the ground.”
“Gaudette” is a medieval lyric, and “Heiling,” by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, is a Hosanna to God in German.
The students were able to experience several works they would not likely find in their high school choir folders. For example, “Winter” from “The Forgottens” was written for Harvard University by Dan Locklair. “The Tree of Peace,” written by Gwyneth Walker after she retreated to a dairy farm in Vermont for the past 35 years, has a
lovely chorus of “Listen, listen, listen to one another,” and speaks of love treading out the fires of anger.
The final and most innovative choral work in the program was “Voice
Dance II,” Hoffenberg said, “Don’t try to listen for the text, there is none.”
Participants from Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties included:
Blue Ridge: Kyra Powell, Sop. 1; Sequoia Marriott, Alto 1; Hunter Renwick, Bass 1;
Elk Lake: William Farnelli, Bass 2.
Forest City: Katie Nguyen, Sop. 2; Lucas Nvins, Tenor 2; Don Nguyen, Bass 1; Cameron Brucher, Bass 2;
Lackawanna Trail. Cassandra Brown, Sop. 2; Emily Herron, Alto 2; Alaina Jones, Alto 2; Matt Merolla, Bass 1; Robert Titus, Bass 2.
Montrose: Felicia Wilcox, Sop. 1, Grace Wood, Sop. 1; Skylar Robinson, Sop. 2; Kyra Ricci, Alto 1; Michayla Stahl, Alto 1; Elizabeth Bennici, Alto 2; Jordann Monaco, Alto 2; Noah Wilcox, Tenor 2; Zebulon Swartley, Bass 2.
Mountain View: Miles Rush, Tenor 2.
Susquehanna Community: Rhiannon Potter, Sop. 2; Kayla Marino, Alto 1; Kevin Silfee, Tenor 1.
Tunkhannock: Julia Franko, Sop. 1; Alyssa Nichols, Sop. 2; Hannah Chesner, Alto 1; Kira DeRemer, Alto 1; Alexia Diaz, Alto 2; Daniel Matson, Tenor 2; Levi Westfield, Tenor 2.

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