The sounds of success
Published: Thursday, May 9th, 2013
The sounds of the Custer High School band and choir have always been wonderful, but after last week’s Region 8 Large Group Contest, the sounds are a bit sweeter.
At the contest in Rapid City, which is open to all high school choirs, bands and orchestras in the Region 8 area (from Edgemont up to Harding County), CHS ensembles brought pieces they had performed for the spring concert in March and performed for three judges. The band played “Shaker Variants” by Elliot del Borgo and “Festivo” by Vaclav Nelhybel while the choir sang “Come to the Music” by Joseph M. Martin, “Keep Your Lamps” arranged by Andre Thomas and “O Sifuni Mungu” arranged by Roger Emerson.
Out of a possible 35 points for each song, the choir received 33, 33 and 34, which were the highest scores of all the choirs with the exception of Stevens Concert Choir, which tied with Custer.
“That was amazing,” said Elisabeth Cherland, music director for Custer Jr./Sr. High School. “Many of these schools are much larger than we are and have much bigger programs.”
Cherland believes the big difference between the choirs was the fact the CHS choir performed.
“Our students were engaged, expressive and beautiful to watch,” she said. “They didn’t just stand there and sing. They were all in and sold the program. It was truly beautiful to watch.”
Responses from the judges were, “You really look like you love to sing. You’re wonderful to watch. Music brings so much joy, doesn’t it?”
“I was so thrilled when he said that because it’s true and it’s something that we are constantly working on,” Cherland said. “You should have seen the students’ faces, too. They were thrilled to be recognized.”
The band did just as well, earning three 30 scores out of the possible 35 for each song.
“The band performed well, too,” Cherland said. “They looked great and I’m told that the judges sat up a little bit straighter when we played our warm-up.”
The band scores were not only excellent in their own right, but also when compared to other schools of the same size.
“I think it’s wonderful that in music events like this we do get a chance to see and hear these other ensembles and I love that these events aren’t for handing out prizes. They’re for getting feedback from judges who are musicians and experts in your area so that we can improve,” Cherland said. “But, let’s be honest, it’s also nice when you can say to yourself, ‘Look! We scored really well!’”
Both groups received many compliments from the judges, other music directors and from students from other schools.
“There are so many talented and dedicated students making great music here in Custer,” Cherland said. “Our program is doing great things and proving to be excellent — especially for a small school!”
The music program has had numerous good things happen this year, including 11 singers being named to All-State, flute player Anna Pickford selected as the first chair flute for the entire state of South Dakota, the band and choir performing at festivals, events and at the nursing home and the band hosted the Southern Hills Band Festival for the third year in a row.
The choir and band will conclude the school year with the community-wide favorite Pops concert on Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m.
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