Annual festival brings over 800 high school singers to campus

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Photo of Andrew Clark.

Clark

KALAMAZOO—The 76th annual Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival will be held on the Western Michigan University campus Thursday, March 13. One of the largest, oldest and most successful high school choral festivals in the United States, this year’s festival will draw participants from 16 southwest Michigan high schools.

The daylong festival will culminate in a 7 p.m. performance in WMU's Miller Auditorium, which is free and open to the public. The concert will feature the 812-voice Festival Chorus, which will nearly fill the first level of the auditorium. Guest conductor Andrew Clark, director of choral activities and senior lecturer on music at Harvard University, will lead the evening performance, which will include the Festival Chorus as well as the 47-member 2014 high school Honors Choir. Featured performances will be given by WMU's University Chorale and Gold Company.

The Festival Chorus will perform four works including George Frideric Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus, Felix Mendelssohn's "Verleih uns Frieden," William Dawson's "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel" and Alice Parker's "Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal."

The high school Honors Choir will perform three selections: Nancy Galbraith's "O Magnum Mysterium," Mark Keller's arrangement of "Hard Times Come Again No More," and Stephen Paulus' "The Road Home."

Participating high schools and directors

  • Allegan High School, Rebecca Balkon   
  • Berrien Springs High School, Carrie VanDenburgh
  • Brandywine High School, Denise Boger
  • Bridgman High School, Jennifer Brohman
  • Coloma High School, Rebecca Selvidge
  • Dowagiac Union High School, Jeff Robinson
  • Hastings High School, Matthew Callaghan
  • Hopkins High School, Jacob Oaster   
  • Kalamazoo Central High School, Theresa Williams-Johnson
  • Lakeshore High School, Katherine Rohwer
  • Lawton High School, Gary Oegema
  • Loy Norrix High School, Julie Pelligrino
  • Mattawan High School, David Hook
  • Niles High School, Matthew D. Hunckler
  • River Valley High School, Mary Lynn Edwards
  • Sturgis High School, Eric Cadena

About the festival

Since its inception in 1935, the Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival has been dedicated providing an experience in mass singing of good repertoire under the leadership of an inspiring conductor. Each year a noted guest conductor is invited to work with select students in a fall workshop and to conduct a daylong festival in March.

For more information about the festival, visit wmich.edu/music/festivals/swmvf.

 For more information about the March 13 concert, visit wmich.edu/music or call (269) 387-4667.