MAKING A JOYFUL NOISE
Fifth-graders from across the metro area gathered Saturday at West Linn High School to sing in the Oregon Music Educators Association's prestigious Honor Choir.
Choir teachers from schools in Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard, Tualatin and other nearby cities nominated students — between three and five singers from each school — to participate in a day-long rehearsal and evening performance.
The Honor Choir was previously open only to middle-school and high-school students, but Forest Hills Elementary music teacher Allison Hedgepeth said the opportunity was extended this year to elementary-school teachers and students.
Hedgepeth, who helped organize the Honor Choir for fifth-graders, says the performers were given sheet music before winter break so they could learn independently. Saturday was the first time the students actually rehearsed as a group, and 110 students participated.
She says the highlight of the day was seeing the students progress from rehearsal to performance.
"At the beginning, they were just 110 kids from five different school districts that had never sang together," Hedgepeth said, "but by the end of the day, they were a choir making music."
Many of Hedgepeth's students said they enjoyed participating in the Honor Choir because they got to meet students from other schools.
"It was really fun to meet new people," said Forest Hills fifth grader Amandia. "I loved it. It was a great experience, and I'm going to do choir again next year."
Fellow Honor Choir member Kate agreed.
"It was awesome to meet new people who love singing like I do," she said. "I enjoy figuring out new melodies and getting them right."
Hedgepeth and other music teachers volunteered their time Saturday in order to help students prepare for their performance.
"I feel incredibly thankful for the other music teachers that nominated students," Hedgepeth said. "Not only did they volunteer their time to help their students learn and work on the music prior to the event, but they also volunteered the whole day supporting the event. It was such a privilege to work with such awesome music educators."
Hedgepeth said students especially liked working with guest conductor Kim Skondin, who typically leads Oregon Repertory Singers' youth choirs.
"The students rehearsed for more than six hours on the music," Hedgepeth said. "The concert was fantastic, and all their hard work really paid off."
The free performance, which was open to family and friends, included a variety of songs in multiple languages.
"I felt so proud of all the students. Organizing this event has been a lot a work, but completely worth it after seeing and hearing the students perform with pride, confidence and a deeper love of singing," Hedgepeth said. "I have been passionate about having a local, rather than a state-level, event like this for elementary students to participate in for the last few years. Things finally fell into place this year."