To the point week of 3-4-10

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I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO attend the 72nd annual Ohio Valley Choral Festival at Lawrenceburg High School last Thursday night, as my daughter, Hilary, was a part of the Switzerland County High School choir.

I have had the chance to attend the festival in the past when it has been held here at Switzerland County, and last Thursday night the event again was impressive and entertaining.

For those of you who may not know, the choir director at Madison High School way back in 1938 decided that he wanted to try and gather high school choirs from schools along the Ohio River together for a festival.

He was successful in his endeavors, and 72 years later, it’s the longest running choral festival in Indiana.

Here’s how it works:

All of high school choirs travel to a central host school, and the groups spend the day melting their voices together into one, combined choir, which is under the direction each year of a well known choral director. This year the chorus was directed by a woman who serves on the Department of Music at both Butler University and the University of Indianapolis.

Spending the day practicing together; the event begins with each of the schools performing their own, individual selection that they have been practicing for months in preparation for this moment.

Choirs from New Albany, Jeffersonville, Charlestown, Madison, and South Dearborn performed prior to the Switzerland County choir; and all performed amazingly. Not only the vocals, but who would have known that a choir full of students gently slapping themselves on the chest would make such a unique musical accompaniment?

Then it came time for the Switzerland County choir to perform. Clearly the smallest group in the event, all of you should know that our kids did an outstanding job on their selection; filling the Lawrenceburg gym with outstanding music and garnering big applause at their conclusion.

It was a performance that the entire community should be proud of.

The final individual performance of the evening was reserved for host Lawrenceburg, and after some moving around, the combined choir performed several selections, which included solos, readings, and individual musical accompaniment by drummers, cellists, and piano players.

But if the evening wasn’t special enough, anyone who’s ever gone to the Ohio Valley Choral Music Festival knows that it always saves the best until last.

Looking at my program, I noticed that the final song of the festival is always “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – it has been since all of this started.

Not only is it a moving tribute, but the program noted that the custom is for any audience members who were a part of the Ohio Valley Choral Music Festival when they were in high school to come down, join the current choir, and sing the final song.

I have to admit, I thought to myself, “That’s never going to happen.”

After all, how many of these adults are going to be brave enough to get up from their seats, walk down the steps, across the gym floor, and then squeeze in with the bunch of high school students to sing.

Would YOU do that? I sure wouldn’t.

But they did.

When the conductor announced that it was time for the finale, dozens – and I mean dozens – of people of all ages did exactly what I never thought they would:

They stood up, walked down the stairs, across the gym floor, and found a place to stand and sing.

And it was magnificent.

We all fall into the trap of placing special emphasis on school athletic teams, but anyone who was at Lawrenceburg last Thursday night knows that we have a school that’s also filled with some pretty talented and artistic kids.

Great job, all of you.