Victorious Vocals

Parkway West choirs achieve exemplary scores


Mikalah Owens

Earlier in the year, chamber and concert girls stand in front of the crowd, ready to begin their show at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church. On Oct. 20, sophomore Gianna Lionelli and her fellow choir members gathered for their first concert of the year. “It’s cool to perform on stage with other kids who are passionate about music because it’s a way to foster creativity,” Lionelli said.

Standing in a group patiently waiting to begin their performance, students from all grades twiddle their thumbs, warm up their voices and fidget with their hair in anticipation of their show. After the nerves settle down, the students perform and again return to play the waiting game to hear back from the judges.

Chamber and concert girls, chamber and concert boys and junior and senior concert choir groups sang two songs for the MSHSAA Large Group Music Festival judges on Tuesday. All choirs received exemplary scores for their performances. 

“[Our performance] gave me an ecstatic feeling afterward, especially because singing is my passion. It was a lot of fun to experience that, and we have a passionate choir director who is great. [Accompanist Maureen] Bolain is really great, so we sounded professional on stage,” sophomore Gianna Lionelli said.

After practicing for two months, the boy’s chamber and concert choirs sang “Lunar Lullaby” by Jacob Narverud and “Dies Irae” by Joseph Leopold Eybler. Meanwhile, the girl’s chamber and concert choirs performed “As the Rain Hides the Stars” by Elaine Hagenberg and “Tota Pulchra Es” by Maurice Duruflé. Last, the junior and senior concert choir sang “Cry Out and Shout” by Knut Nystedt and “The Stars Stand Up in the Air” by Eric William Barnum. 

Additionally, Bolain complimented the groups on their recital because of the lack of time that they had to master their pieces. The groups also found success in sight reading — a skill in which new sheet music is presented for on-the-spot, unrehearsed singing. 

“Overall, I felt decently prepared because I’ve done this before, and I’m used to learning choir pieces relatively quickly and leading groups in sight reading. Some people weren’t sure about some of the lyrics, but we were there to support them and help each other out not to make it that big of a deal,” tenor section leader and senior Christopher Woodcock said.

On the bus ride back, all the scores were released, and students got to celebrate as a group. After they returned to school, students from all choirs got together for a pizza party.

“It was a really great experience [because] everyone was together for one last large ensemble for our senior year, and we got [exemplary] ratings all around,” Woodcock said. “[While] we also got [exemplary] last year, this year, some of it felt a little rushed at times, but we pulled through together, and I was really happy with that.”