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Singers take surprises in stride

October 18, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - As the voices of the All County Senior High School Chorus sailed through the Italian lyrics of Verdi's "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" at their concert Wednesday night, you never would have guessed many of the students had only learned them the day before.

Top chorus students from all seven county high schools participate in the All County Chorus, but much of the practicing takes place in small groups within each high school before the group ever meets together, students said. Then, in three marathon rehearsals, everything finally comes together.

And sometimes, there are surprises.

"The music had lyrics in both English and Italian, and we'd been practicing the English version," said Williamsport High School junior Kelsi Phillips, a soprano.

That was nothing to the surprise in store for 12-year-old Ariana Walsh.

Ariana, a seventh-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, said she didn't find out until the night of the concert that she would be singing a solo in the All County Middle School Chorus opening song, "Instrument of Peace."

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She had been practicing the solo with her choir teacher during lunch, and was selected from about a dozen students at an audition the night of the show.

"It was very nerve-wracking," she said.

Despite the last-minute decisions, students said they spent hours practicing until their directors were confident everything was perfect.

High school conductor Patricia Kuzmick stopped the chorus countless times during a seven-hour rehearsal Tuesday to correct vowels, diction, dynamics and rhythm, Clear Spring High School senior Zack Nelson said. Sometimes, it took more than an hour to get through a single song.

For Clear Spring senior Brandon Rada, a tenor, the hardest part was navigating the 16th-notes and articulating the lyrics "magnitudinis ejus" in "Salmo 150." It was a challenge, he said.

"It's really the place where we get together with people of our own level," he said.

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