Show choir qualifies for national competition, now needs to raise funds to get thereThe good news is that the top Hastings High School show choir, Riverside Company, placed second at a national competition in Branson, Mo., on Saturday. Riverside Company now advances to the national championships in Chicago.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The good news is that the top Hastings High School show choir, Riverside Company, placed second at a national competition in Branson, Mo., on Saturday. Riverside Company now advances to the national championships in Chicago.
The bad news? Now the choir has to figure out a way to pay for its trip to Chicago. It will be no small bill: imagine bussing some 70 students for a weekend and putting them up in a Chicagoland hotel for two nights. The bill is expected to come to $15,000. Some gifts have come in the choir, and work is now under way to make up the difference, which is $8,000.
A group of parents met Monday night to get the ball rolling when it comes to the fundraising.
One major piece of the fundraising effort will be a car wash in the Green Mill parking lot from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15.
Free-will donations will be accepted during the car wash. In addition, the Green Mill will donate $5 for every brunch served inside the restaurant during that same time period.
Individuals and businesses that would like to make a donation can do so by sending them to the Hastings Show Choirs, c/o Lin Warren, 200 General Sieben Dr. in Hastings. Anyone seeking more information can call Deanna Werner at 651-283-5971.
A fan bus is also scheduled to make the trip to Chicago. Anyone interested in going on that bus should contact Bob Wise at 651-437-9595.
The reigning national champions, the Classics from Wheaton-Warrenville, Ill., were the only team to come in ahead of Hastings at the meet in Branson.
“Things went extremely well,” director Lin Warren said. “The group was just incredible both in prelims and in finals.”
Hastings certainly had some obstacles thrown its way during the competition. Riverside Company was the second group to perform on Saturday, meaning there were 13 choirs that came on after Hastings.
“It’s so easy to be forgotten as they go through all these show choirs,” Warren said. “Judges are not apt to give their highest scores the first thing in the morning. It’s a lot like skating, or anything else that is subjective: If they start out with high scores, they have no room. If they already place a group high, and someone else comes along that is better, what do they do? That’s always a tricky part of it.”
At 5 p.m., Hastings learned it was one of five teams to advance to finals. A draw was held to determine the order of the finals round, and Hastings was the first team up.
That meant Hastings had its warm-up set for 6 p.m. Meanwhile, the team’s costumes were back at the hotel. A mad scramble ensued to get back to the hotel, get prepared and then get to rehearsal in time.
The team made the schedule work and took the stage at 7 p.m.
“Going first in finals, you have to set the mark so that everything pales in comparison,” Warren said. “To get a second, having gone first in finals, it was an amazing feat, but this is an amazing group. They’re so capable of anything.
“There were a lot of obstacles. To place that high at a competition of this caliber, with the obstacles we had to overcome, I really didn’t have any idea that it was going to turn out this way.”
The great results the team has had this season are no fluke. The Hastings show choir program has been strong for years, thanks in large part to a strong choir curriculum in the schools, Warren said.
“These kids are getting great vocal training,” Warren said. “We’re getting these singers (in high school) that already have a great sense of good vocal technique, and what it takes to be part of a good choir. It’s already instilled in them when they get here.”
Earning a coveted spot on Riverside Company is no easy task, and getting a spot means countless hours of rehearsal. Tryouts are held in May and over the summer the show is put together, piece by piece, costume by costume.
Once school starts in the fall, rehearsal begins. There is a three-hour rehearsal every Monday night, a 90-minute long rehearsal on Wednesday night and many weekends are spent working with the choreography.
“They make it look easy, but every beat has some movement, or sometimes two movements,” Warren said. “When you think about the number of beats in every song, and multiply that by the number of songs we have ... well when you think of it that way, it’s an overwhelming concept.”
Fitness, in and of itself, is a major component, considering the show is 18 minutes long.
“After rehearsals, everyone is just drenched with sweat,” Warren said.
The competition season begins in January and, this season at least, ends in late-April.
Tryouts for next year’s Riverside Company are now just a month away.
“It just never really ends,” Warren said with a laugh.
That said, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Neither, apparently, would the students who are the ones on stage making it all happen.
“I just go under the premise that students want to be part of something good, and they want to be proud of what they do,” he said. “They think this is a lot of fun. I think it’s popular because no one sits on the bench. Everyone performs, all the time.”
The Show Choir National Championship Series is set for April 20-21 at the Arie Crowne Theater in Chicago.