St. Ansgar Choir Has Busy Semester

By Zachariah Carlson, Vocal Music Director- St. Ansgar Middle/High School

The St. Ansgar Vocal Music Department has had a busy spring semester.

Eight St. Ansgar students were nominated and accepted into the 2017 Meistersinger Honor Choir held at Warturg College. These students spent two days refining their singing skills, connecting with other singers from across the region, and then presented a finale concert on January 23rd. The finale concert featured the music of prominent composer Jake Runestad who was also a guest clinician for the honor choir. The students that were accepted into this honor choir include two sophomores, four juniors, and two seniors.

2017 Meistersinger Honor Choir in Waverly,
IA (submitted photo)

Our Concert Choir spent March 3rd in Minneapolis on a one-day run out tour. Saints Music Supporters supplied us with a charter bus, and The Cider Tree fed the students in the morning before boarding the bus. We arrived at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Downtown Minneapolis to participate in a clinic with Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Director of Choral Ministries. Tesfa informed us that we were the first choir to take part in a series that he is launching for choirs travel to Westminster and clinic with him and sing in a variety of spaces that the parish has to offer. Tesfa energized our students and made us all laugh! Next, we traveled a short distance to The Basilica of St. Mary where we took a guided tour before singing two numbers. Students experienced first hand how important singing in an acoustically appropriate and rich space can be, how it impacts musicianship, and what it does to the sound of the choir.

St. Ansgar HS Choir performs two numbers at The Basilica of St. Mary in Downtown Minneapolis, March 3. (submitted photo). Several students claimed that they had “a musical experience” and will remember singing in The Basilica for many years to come.

Following our experience at The Basilica, we traveled to Washburn High School in South Minneapolis. Nancy (Nickerson) Lee, originally from St. Ansgar, is the Vocal Music Director. In 2016 she brought one of her choirs “Miller Voices” to St. Ansgar for an afternoon exchange so we went to them this year! We enjoyed an afternoon of singing, teaching each other new songs, and getting to know new friends that are growing up with a different world perspective than ours here in small town Iowa. We are so grateful for this powerful and educational exchange opportunity!

(From left to right) Gabby Finberg, Bryan Schmidt, Maggi Steele, Aaron Powers, Brianna Hildebrand, Mitchell Smith, Paige Smith, & Joel Carlson. (submitted photo)

After a supper break and some free time at the Mall of America, we went back to Washburn High School to watch their production of “Into the Woods”. They provided free seats for all chaperones and students- Thank you, Washburn! We were thoroughly impressed by the quality of the entire production. From set design, lighting, costumes, and singing, to their pit orchestra. This was surely a collegiate level production.  When asked, students said the following about our time in Minneapolis; “A once in a lifetime opportunity.  A day off from school well spent.” And “Singing in the Basilica with my Choir family was a breathtaking experience, and singing at Tesfa’s clinic was phenomenal.

Shopping and exploring the Mall of America was enjoyable as well. Being reunited with the students of Miller Voices at Washburn High School was wonderful, and I loved seeing their top-notch musical production of Into the Woods.” These tremendous experiences are possible because our community supports the Fine Arts. Without your active vouching and support, we would not be able to provide our students with these experiences. Thank You!

St. Ansgar HS Choir students attend Westminster Presbyterian Church in Downtown Minneapolis to participate in a clinic with Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Director of Choral Ministries. (submitted photo)

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