Each January, music educators from the entire state of Michigan gather in downtown Grand Rapids for the Annual Michigan Music Conference. They attend sessions presented by leaders in the field and also listen to selected school musical groups. The conference is recognized for setting a standard of excellence philosophically and musically throughout the state.
Various school groups are selected to perform based on audition recordings that are submitted by their directors the previous spring. In the past thirty years many Jenison Choirs have been chosen to perform at all levels: elementary, junior high and high school which is something we, as a district and community take great pride in. However, this year, as a result of a blind audition the 7 – 9 Male Chorus was invited to perform during the MSVMA Choral Hour at the JW Marriott Hotel. Only six choirs from the state were given this honor and ours was the only choir to include students at the junior high level.
While the quickly swelling crowd waited for the previous session to wrap up the Jenison Male Chorus worked on their focus with mental warm ups. The other selected choirs from Traverse City and DeWitt also waited but it was impossible to ignore the 94 young men dressed in their tux jackets and ties.
When they took the stage, they were greeted by applause and performed four songs: two in Latin with complex harmonies and two that were upbeat and included some different stylings. The final song, “Coney Island Baby” even included choreography and was a genuine crowd pleaser, earning the group a standing ovation.
Director Steven Waters, a veteran teacher of 29 years who has been with Jenison for 18 years, had this to say in appreciation of the young men he works with:
“I think the thing that is most unique about our group compared to others is that it is an all male JH age (grades 7-9) group. The second thing that sets them apart is that they aren’t an auditioned group. The other choirs that were selected are all “select” , elite choirs from their respective schools. We refer to our choirs at the JH as “y’all come sing” groups. Our Male Chorus is also unique in that it’s a JH aged choir that routinely sings 4-part acappella literature which is very challenging.”
If you’d like to catch an upcoming performance of another Jenison Choir please join our JH girl choirs performing in the Jenison Center for the Arts with the Lakewood Area Choral Society (LACS) on Tuesday April 1.
“This is a unique opportunity for our students to perform jointly with an adult group. We’re hoping this encourages them to view singing as a lifelong activity that is healthy and rewarding. The LACS is a phenomenal auditioned community ensemble of 110 voices and is directed by former Jenison Choir Director Bob Oster.” – Steven Waters
Congratulations Male Chorus! We’re proud of you!