During the late morning in the auditorium at on Thursday, the sounds of vocal harmony filled the air as South Brunswick's top student vocalists prepared for last night's District Choral Festival. The concert featured fifth grade vocalists from each elementary school, the Vocal Ensemble from the Crossroads North and Crossroads South Middle Schools, and the South Brunswick High School Concert Choir.
"This concert features our most gifted singers from all the schools in the district, so the best of the best in the choral program come together to present a gift to the community," said Supervisor of K-12 Music John Ketterer.
Each year the district features a different section of South Brunswick's music program to feature in the festival. , but this year it was all about the singers.
Students were selected by their school music teachers through a process of auditions and one on one sessions that displayed their vocal quality.
The festival offers a chance for the younger kids in South Brunswick's music program to get a glimpse of the future and to see the work it takes to succeed from the district's older high-achieving singers.
"This is a great opportunity for the kids to do something with other kids who are just like they are, and to see the program from the elementary school level through the high school," Ketterer said. "They get to be with our more well-trained students so they can aspire to be like that one day. The elementary school kids want to be in the middle school choir, the middle school kids want to be in the high school choir, and the high school kids want to sing in college. Though we think our choir is better than those in most colleges."
The concert featured two selections each from the three groups, plus a performance from the middle school and high school together, and all students in the concert joining for a performance of "Dona nobis pacem."
The concert also featured students in the HIB (Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying) program performing the anti-bullying song "Don't Laugh at Me."
Lined up on the risers at SBHS Thursday morning, students practiced their selections repeatedly as they prepared for the big show in a packed auditorium. Cambridge Elementary School students said they weren't apprehensive to perform in front of the largest audience they'd ever been in front of.
"It's fun and I really like all the songs, so I'm not nervous about it," said fifth-grader Antonio Rios. "It's been great to get to sing with new people."
Cambridge fifth-grader Enne Marchese agreed.
"It's fun getting to meet new friends and it's an honor to be chosen from people at each school," she said. "It's going to be great seeing all my family and friends coming to watch us sing."
Cambridge music teacher Lisa Garwood said the festival allows the younger students to step up in skill level and see what it takes to reach the top of South Brunswick's music program. She added that the event is a testament to the support for arts in the district.
"I've been here for 18 years and the music department is so well supported," Garwood said. "But we love it when the singers get a chance to be the stars."
Ketterer said each year the festival helps to inspire students and parents alike to be lifelong music lovers.
"How often do kids get to perform in front of thousands of people?" he said. "It's a special night for them and we hope parents want to keep music in the lives of their kids."