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NICL Vocal Festival-By: Shelby Yates

January 24, 2014
Northern-Sun Print
On Monday, January 13th, the GladbrookReinbeck High School hosted the annual NICL Vocal Festival! This year’s program included the musical stylings of these following high schools: AGWSR, DikNew Hartford, Hudson, Waterloo Columbus, and Gladbrook-Reinbeck. All of the high school students, reaching over 300 kids, met in the GR gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. and rehearsed all afternoon in preparation for the 7:00 p.m. concert. To kick off the program, each school prepared a special selection to share with the crowd to represent their school. Under the direction of Kim Medick, AGWSR was up first and shared two pieces, “Hallelujah” and “Let the River Run”. Both songs were very melodic and contained beautiful harmonies. Next up was Dike-New Hartford, performing beautiful Christmas classics. The first was a season favorite, “Carol of the Bells”, and the next was a medley of carols entitled “Night of Silence”. Their choir was under the new direction of Austin Zaruba. Next up with the hometown favorite, GladbrookReinbeck, who brought back two favorites from their fall concert! Director Amanda Bridges brought the Cantori Choir (9th/10th grade girls) forward to perform first. They sang “You Are My Music”, a song that has proved to push the ladies to form strong harmonies, focus on blend, and create mature sounds. They executed this excellently at the concert! The Concert Choir (912th grade boys/1112th grade girls) performed “Kawouno Wan Gi Pi”, which you may recall as the “rainstick song” from the fall concert. It was extremely fast and was uniquely performed a capella. The individual high school portion of the concert concluded with director Julie Anderson bringing the Hudson choir to the stands. They performed an absolutely beautiful, and melodicenriched piece, “Benedictus”. Giving every school the opportunity to share their talents and show their hard work has proved to be a favorite part of this special festival! The NICL Vocal Festival was very lucky and honored to have special guest conductor, John Len Wiles, lead our festival choir in rehearsal and performance! Dr. Wiles is the Assistant Professor of Choral Conducting at UNI, where he conducts Concert Chorale, Cantorei, and the Varsity Men’s Glee Club! He also teaches graduate students in choral conducting and choral literature. His choirs have toured internationally to Austria, France, Germany, and Mexico. He’s an active clinician, working with colleges, high schools, and middle schools in Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas. Wiles had completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Texas. Prior, he received Master of Music, Master of Divinity and Bachelor of Music degrees at Baylor University. We also were lucky enough to have Nick Klemetson join us at the piano to accompany us and share his talents. Mr. Klemetson has been the Director of Music Ministries and Organist at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waverly since July of 2011. Before that, he served as a church musician in the Twin Cities and Atlanta, GA. In addition, he is very active at Wartburg College where he is working as a rehearsal pianist and vocal coach for the Opera Workshop and various Honor Choirs, both at Wartburg and throughout the Cedar Valley. The festival chorus prepared a wide variety of music, which all the kids loved! The first song was a traditional Mozart piece entitled, “Ave Verum Corpus”. This selection included strong 4-part harmonies and extreme dynamic contrasts. We were taught that this was the very last piece Mozart composed before his death, and explains the journey Jesus took to the cross. Next on the program was “Betelehemu”, a Nigerian Christmas song. This was definitely a favorite amongst the high schoolers. This song had high intensity, and caused shivers down the spine. The piece started with just the men andgradually added on more voices until it created an uproar of sound, with the thunderous claps only adding to the energy of the piece! The next selection was a complete contrast, bringing in some soulfilled Americana with “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. This specific version included sectioned men and women singing and ended with the entire crowd joining in on the chorus! The program was concluded with what ended up to be an obvious crowdpleaser, “Swingin’ With the Saints”. This was an exciting, jazzy twist on the classic “Saints Go Marching In”. It included 8part harmonies, lots of ‘attitude’ as Dr. Wile put it, and some diverse contrasting sections that really make this an overall great piece! The program was absolutely awesome! If you weren’t able to come to the concert, I highly encourage you to search and listen to these wonderful musical selections. Most of all, I encourage you to make it a priority to come check out these local choirs every chance you get! NICL Vocal Festival is a unique program that everyone should experience, so keep your eyes out for this event to roll around again next January!

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