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Broadfording Christian choir off to D.C.

December 04, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- The voices of members of Broadfording Christian Academy's high school choir, known as The Ambassadors, will ring out in song at the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.

The half-hour performance -- the choir's second in as many years -- will be Sunday, starting at 6 p.m.

The Ambassadors formed three years ago, under the direction of Pam Smith. The 22 high school vocalists earned spots in the group through auditions and by maintaining academic requirements. Choir members also must be students of good character, as determined through an interview and teacher references.

"I just don't want them to be one way here and another way in their other classes," Smith said.

Last year's National Christmas Tree performance was such a good experience for the group that Smith decided to submit an application this year, including a list of available dates.

"I was really shocked they selected us again. I'm sure many groups want to get in," Smith said.

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She said the Ambassadors sing in three- and four-part harmony, which isn't that common anymore. During its appearance last year, the choir sang a piece with six-part harmony.

"It was an awesome experience, not something that happens every day," senior Kathleen Prather, 17, said of last year's performance.

The National Christmas Tree is across the street from the White House on the Ellipse, with trees decorated to represent each of the 50 states. The groups that provide entertainment perform in a half-domed amphitheater in front of the tree, with bleachers set up for the audience.

Kathleen said that participants last year caught a glimpse of President Bush returning from a trip and walking to the White House.

The performance is held rain or shine.

This year, the group will sing a varied selection of at least eight to nine holiday songs, including "Carol of the Bells," "Gloria," "You are Emmanuel," "All Rise" and "Sleigh Ride."

The Ambassadors have sung the national anthem each season before a Hagerstown Suns game and will sing at Valley Mall in December.

The choir traveled to Kings Dominion the past two years for a choral festival and received a "Superior" rating both times. This year, they will travel to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg for a festival performance and will perform at their school's monthly gallery to showcase the talents of the student body.

The choir recently started a church ministry through which it will sing at six different churches as part of a monthly visitation program.

"The big key is to have a ministry aspect. 'Use your music for good,'" Smith tells her students.

In addition to her work with the choir, Smith teaches music to the elementary and middle school students at BCA, as well as drama at the high school level.

"She works nonstop," sophomore Pete Cradduck, 16, said.

The choir is a way for the students to showcase their talents, to promote the school and to aid its efforts to build up its fine arts programs, Smith said.

"Once you're in it, you just can't leave," sophomore Kelli Crider, 15, said of the choir.

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