WVU High School Choral Festival

 

Eric Whitacre works with a section of students at the inaugural WVU High School Choral Festival.

The Creative Arts Center played host to the Inaugural WVU High School Choral Festival this past Saturday.

More than 600 high school choristers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia flocked to the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre to perform music composed by Grammy Award winner Eric Whitacre. Whitacre traveled from the West Coast to conduct two of his original composed pieces: "Sleep" and "The Seal Lullaby."

In addition to the Massed Choir performance, which concluded the Choral Festival, there were also the WVU Chamber Singers and four high school choirs from Lewis County High School, Derry Area High School, Parkersburg High School and University High School. Each choir had the opportunity to work with the famed special guest.

"Eric Whitacre, to those people who are not involved in music, is not a big name, but for those people in choral music, he’s about as big a name as it gets," said Kym Scott, Director of Choral

Activities.

The doors opened at 3 p.m. However, the event truly did not begin until after the Q&A and interview with Whitacre and Paul K. Kreider, Dean of the College of Creative Arts. The participating students were given an opportunity to write down their questions to the popular composer and conductor.

At 4:15 p.m., the WVU Chamber Singers performed "A Boy and a Girl," which was directed by Scott. Next to perform were the four high schools.

Lewis County High School sang "With a Lily in your Hand," directed by Martina Norman. Next was a Pennsylvania High School, Derry Area, which sang "I Hide Myself," directed by Melody Vigo. Parkersburg High School performed "Lux Arumque," which was directed by Pamela McClain. Last of the four high school choirs to perform was Morgantown’s University High School. It sang "Glow," directed by Barry Kolar.

The Massed Choir closed out the first year of the WVU High School Choral Festival in fashion as Whitacre conducted in dramatic fashion to the average attendee. Although the event was not sold out, it was a relatively full house in a theatre that seats just over 1,400 people.

Gathering the students on stage was the biggest difficulty Scott faced in organizing the event. With the amount of participants the event had, space became an issue. In order to make more room on stage, some members of the Massed Choir had to stand off of the stage.

"We need to be careful it doesn’t get out of control, size-wise," Scott said. "We managed to get the kids on stage, but it was tight."

Scott, who brought the event to fruition is already planning for the future.

"March, next year, we will definitely have another event," Scott said. "We don’t know who we will have here for it yet, but there will definitely be a high school festival again next year."

Overall, Scott was satisfied with the performances, audience and quality of the event. Her future goal is to extend the festival to two days, rather than one.