High school choirs will tune up voices

Polk County Itemizer-Observer

MONMOUTH — More than 600 high school vocalists from across Oregon and Southwest Washington, including Dallas High students, will invade Monmouth for a special concert early next week.

The 15th annual WOU Choral Festival will take place Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 22-23, with morning and afternoon performances on both days at Rice Auditorium.

Choirs from 20 different high schools are participating during the two-day period. They’ll sing in the morning, while Western’s chamber singers will take the stage in the afternoon.

Music will range from hymns and gospel to Christmas carols. School size also varies, with the smallest choir featuring eight students and the largest 100.

Each day will end with all high school participants singing as one group.

The festival was created by music professor Solveig Holmquist when she arrived at WOU in 1995 and has run every year since. It’s noncompetitive, nor does it serve as a qualifying event for state choir contests, said Erica Hall, choral festival coordinator.

But it is an opportunity for high schools to fine tune their own respective fall and winter concerts in front of peers and a panel of judges, said Hall, who participated in the event as a West Albany High School student.

“Any time you go to a festival with more than 40 other kids, it’s a big deal,” she said. “It was exciting to be able to sing for other schools.”

University recruitment is another purpose behind the festival, Hall said, noting it was the first taste of Western for her and some members of WOU’s Chamber Singers.

It also serves as exposure for the schools to one another, Hall said.

“It lets the schools get out there … and to see and hear what other choirs are doing,” she said.

Let’s Sing!

What: Western Oregon University Choral Festival.

When: Monday, Nov. 22, and Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Where: Rice Auditorium, WOU campus, 345 N. Monmouth Ave., Monmouth.

Of note: High school performances begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 22 and run through noon. Western’s Chamber Singers and a mass performance will happen in the afternoon. A similar schedule is set for Tuesday, though school performances begin at 9:15 a.m.

Admission: Free and open to community members, though seating is limited.

For more information: Erica Hall via e-mail at ehall05@wou.edu or call 503-838-8275.

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