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College holds high school choir festival

Alicia Smith | Friday, November 19, 2010

With 20 women’s choirs from Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, the High School Women’s Choir Festival held at Saint Mary’s College promotes female chorus groups, Nancy Menk, director of choral activities, said.

“It’s for constructive criticism and help,” she said. “It’s not a competition. It’s just a festival.”

Menk said the opportunity allowed feedback from a panel of three commentators. The festival, which began Thursday, also allowed each choir to listen to comparable women’s choirs to gain insight.

The commentators this year were Paul Caldwell of Chicago, Sean Ivory of Grand Rapids, Mich. and Barbara Tagg of Syracuse, N.Y.

According to Menk, each choir performed for the other choirs and the commentators. Following each performance, one of the three commentators worked directly with the choir to provide feedback on their performance. The choir will receive written comments from the other members of the panel.

“They come here and each choir performs a short program for each other and for a panel of commentators that we bring in,” Menk said. “These are experts in the field. Following their performance one of the three commentators goes up on stage with a [microphone] and works with the choir, like in a workshop format, to improve some aspect of their performance.”

The festival is a two-day event and will end today around 4:30 p.m.

Menk said the Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir performed each day to provide an example for the high school students.

The annual festival is celebrating its 26th year.

Menk said the festival is mutually beneficial for the high school students and the College.

“It’s important for Saint Mary’s because it brings 800 prospective students to our campus, and its promoting good choral singing among high school women,” Menk said. “It’s promoting good quality repertoire for high school choirs, and it’s giving them a chance … to go to a festival and something that’s geared just toward them.”

According to Menk, the festival hopes to improve singing and pride within each organization.

“It should help them to feel good about what they’re doing. It should give them an aspiration, something to aspire to with their choir, to be able to work at a higher level,” she said.