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Saint James School Choir to perform at Kennedy Center

February 18, 2009

SAINT JAMES - The Saint James School Choir will add another new venue to its already impressive list of concert halls.

On Monday, March 30, the 23-member ensemble will perform at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage as part of this year's "Music in Our Schools Month" celebration. The event is free to the public. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

"It is quite an honor to be selected to perform at the Kennedy Center," said Barbara Wischmeier, Saint James School Choir director and chair of the fine arts department. "We are the only private school represented."

Wischmeier submitted the choir's last two CDs, along with a recommendation from The Rev. D. Stuart Dunnan, the school's headmaster, to the committee last November. However, the confirmation deadline had passed, and her hopes of the invitation were an afterthought until a week after the deadline.

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"I was ecstatic," Wischmeier said. "The e-mail arrived late on Wednesday, Jan. 28. I thought it was a 'thanks, but no thanks' e-mail."

The Saint James Choir will perform for 30 minutes, followed by the University of Maryland Brass Ensemble. The next night, Tuesday, March 31, two schools from Virginia will perform: the Heritage High School T.W.E.L.V.E. Jazz Choir from Loudon County, along with the Washington & Lee University Jazz Big Band.

"We received eight submissions after the artistic supervisors from each of the counties in Maryland and Virginia chose those they felt were the best," said Diana Ezerins, Programming Coordinator for the Performing Arts for Everyone program. "Our aim is to present as diverse a program as possible, showcasing as many different styles and programs in our schools as possible."

Over the course of the past 10 years under the direction of Wischmeier, invitations have taken the Choir to the world famous Piccolo Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, S.C., the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City, the historic Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, Va., and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The choir embarked on a nine-day tour to England during spring break of March 2005. There they performed at Canterbury Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, Saint Mary's Collegiate Church of Warwick, Lady Eleanor Holles Girls School, and Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. In March 2006, the tour went to Chicago, where they performed at the Saint James Cathedral and the Saint Gregory's Episcopal School. In February of 2007, the choir sang Evensong at the National Cathedral along with St. Albans-NCS Chorale and the Choir of Washington National Cathedral; during spring break, they traveled to Austin and San Antonio, Texas for an eight-day tour. In April, they continued their travels and represented Saint James School while doing a concert at the famous Princeton University Chapel and recorded a live CD. In March 2008, they toured to Central and Southern Florida for 10 days to schools, cathedrals and parish churches. This spring, they look forward to traveling to Virginia and North Carolina for five days.

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