Voices raise at D9 Chorus Fest

Vocal students qualifying for District Chorus performed in the festival held at Marywood University. PHOTO COURTESY TERESA MARINO

Singers from school districts in Northeast Pennsylvania gathered at Marywood University Jan. 15-17 to join voices for the Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association District 9 Chorus Festival, despite snow squalls and bracing temperatures outdoors.

Students in grades 10-12 participating in the festival had been selected after auditions, and after arriving at Marywood University auditioned for to advance to the Regional Chorus festival.

In the meantime, long rehearsals filled the days and nights, while students learned their repertoire and gained an appreciation for a variety of choral music ranging from gospel anthems to folk airs to classical harmonies with lyrics in Latin.

Guest conductor was Joseph Farrell, director of choral music for the Derry Township School District and 2003 recipient of the Outstanding Young Conductor Award from the American Choral Directors Association of Pennsylvania. Farrell directs a variety of choirs in the Harrisburg and Hershey areas. The accompanist was Tsukasa Waltich.

Co-Hosts for the festival were music educators Antonino Bennici, Robert Bottger, Adam Burdett, Matt Shaul, and Scott Zimmerman.

Susquehanna Community choral director Theresa Marino said that it was one of the best choral concerts she’s heard in a very long time.  She said, “Two of my favorites – in terms of beauty and emotional response – were ‘Jenny Rebecca’ and the women’s piece ‘And Stars I Shall Find.’ Mr. Farrell was able to get these students to sing with precision, beauty, and emotion, no matter what piece they were singing. Even my die-hard band student who is new to chorus had an experience more fulfilling than he expected. All of my students came back a little more complete as human beings than they were before this event.”

Audience member Nicole Schake of Springville offered, “When the choir was singing ‘Psalm 23’ a capella, they hit the first crescendo and the music was filled with rich emotion. Tears involuntarily ran down my cheeks. It was stirring, moving, powerful, healing. It was breathtaking.”

District 9 participants from Susquehanna and Wyoming counties included:


Elk Lake: Jaclyn Gesford

Tunkhannock Area: Charisma Fell and Jessica Kaneski


Blue Ridge: Isabelle Edwards and Madison Welsted

Lackawanna Trail: Abigail Dalton and Maria Wetsel

Tunkhannock Area: Krista Dieffenbach


Blue Ridge: Kaelin Hughes and Danielle Tierney

Lackawanna Trail: Jordan Spencer

Montrose Area: Cassidy Beeman

Susquehanna Community: Rachel Day

Tunkhannock Area: Hanalee Nichols


Blue Ridge: Morgan Mansfield, Carling Renwick

Montrose Area: Catherine Strickland

Susquehanna Community: Julia Schell

Tunkhannock Area: Emily Poole


Blue Ridge: Logan Mann

Elk Lake: Colin Schake

Forest City: Ryan Notari

Lackawanna Trail: Michael Measley

Mountain View: Andrew McHenry

Tunkhannock Area: Mykael Harvey


Blue Ridge: Spencer Renwick

Lackawanna Trail: JR Decker

Tunkhannock Area: Christopher Mirabelli


Lackawanna Trail: Isaac Vierling and Mason Zajac


Blue Ridge: Mason Conklin and Tony Dissinger

Elk Lake: Darlen Hurlburt

Susquehanna Community: Ryan Armitage

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