Over the course of two days from Feb. 17-18 at Seoul Foreign School (SFS), 16 choir students were chosen to represent Seoul International School in the Korean International Music Educators Association (KIMEA) annual choir festival. The National Honor Festival (NHF) for choir took place in the form of a workshop designed to help students develop their techniques as a choir ensemble. At the end of the two days, the orchestra and band honor students joined with the choir for a final performance.
“I was given the opportunity to meet with an amazing group of individuals from 11 other schools and a guest director from California,” said Gloria Park (11), choir ambassador member. “We worked on fixing and mastering seven songs as a large group over the two days, and concluded with performing each of them.”
Students were chosen to represent SIS last October through singing auditions selected not by our choir department but sent directly to the KIMEA association and judged by on the association’s standards there. The audition required choir members to sing an excerpt of songs and showcase technical scales to demonstrate passion and talent. From the choir department, a total of 16 students were selected to travel to the festival through thorough selection processes this year.
“The festival hopefully made them realize that the kinds of things we work on here [in everyday class] is an international approach towards a similar goal, but also that each director takes a different approach in achieving those standards,” said Kallina Chin, choir director. “We had the opportunity to work with a choir director from California State University, and I hope that students were able to gain insight and motivation through their participation.”
The festival featured three different choir sections, a mixed choir, a ladies choir, and a men’s choir. The mixed choir sang numerous pieces reflecting both modern and classical music, for example “How Lovely Are the Messengers” by Felix Mendelssohn and “Since I Laid My Burdens Down” by Rollo Dilworth. All the voice parts of the choir came together and presented the songs in harmony. The ladies and men’s choir each presented one piece, once again portraying a distinct musical arrangement.
“It was different [from any other choir class] because of the comparatively big group of people that I got a chance to work with,” said Gloria. “I usually only get to work with a smaller group whether it be ladies choir or ambassadors, so it was fascinating what even 50 people could create together in merely two days. I think I was able to develop as a singer through this festival, because I learned how to adjust my voice all the while challenging myself with new pieces of music that I would not have had come across.”
During the workshop, students spent hours in each respective voice group divided by soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, rehearsing each of their assigned parts. Groups then came together and practiced again as a full chorus, during which soloists were also selected. Within this period students not only made sure that their given songs were polished but also continually refined their singing techniques with professional vocal coaches, enjoying a distinct opportunity from everyday choir classes at school. Based on student opinions, it was a time to meet new peers from different schools and learning the importance of cooperation in order to produce the best concert possible at the end of the day.