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The winter concert was Gresham High School's second choir performance of the year

PMG PHOTO: KIM CORTES-MARTINEZ  - Singers filled Gresham High Schools new stage during the schools winter concert. Gresham High School had its second choir performance on of the year on Friday, Dec. 17. COVID-19 altered the timeframe for its grand opening in 2020.

Friday night's performance had the auditorium packed to the brim with local families and excited community members eager to hear the choirs of Gresham high.

Before the performance had even started, the audience was enjoying conversation about what might be showcased, but as soon as the lights shut off, silence swept through the crowd.

Opening the night the combined choirs sang "Carol of the Bells" while standing on the area surrounding the lower seating area. Seen among the young vocalists were the many differences in their concert attire. Members of the Treble Choir wore red, black, and grey, while members of the Concert Choir wore blue choir robes.

The performance was lined up in order of choral levels, beginning with the Treble Choir (women's entry level choir) and then Men's Choir (men's entry level choir). Treble Choir and Men's Choir don't have auditions to be accepted in and are open to all grade levels. However, all the soloists showcased had to audition for their solo.

Encore, a women's 10-12th grade choir by audition only, followed the Men's Choir and featured seven soloists for their two songs.

PMG PHOTO: KIM CORTES-MARTINEZ - The Gresham High School Choir, led by Janine Kirstein, performs during the return of the winter concert on Dec. 17.During the first bit of the performance, the audience was attentive and cheering, but the loudest applause began after Kyra McCloud and Isaac Walker sang a duet together on "Baby it's Cold Outside." The elite choirs showed more chemistry with each other, and that's something that the audience noticed.

Overtones is the highest choir, where you will find all 13 of this year's All-State competitors. McCloud says Overtones meets in the mornings before school, making the class a zero period. There were three soloists, but only Finn Thornton will be attending All-State.

The Concert Choir is "the much bigger, but also elite choir. Filled with around 50 to 60 people," McCloud said. With a choir that size, it is easy to perform visual songs like "Angels We Have Heard on High." One of the many traditions for the GHS Choir is to start off the song with two rows of "angels" walking slowly into the stands while holding an electric candle. Although it is not something new, it captivated the audience like it was.

McCloud took away the show with two chilling duos, the second one with fellow 2022 All-State competitor, Emily Clark. "I was almost crying with the girl I did my solo with; we were so happy that we got it done," McCloud expresses.

To end the night and follow tradition, choral director Janine Kirstein invited fellow alumni in the crowd to sing The Hallelujah Chorus with Concert Choir. All current choir members were quick to make room for the familiar faces, and all the alumni remembered exactly where they should go. Seen throughout the stands were current students, recent alumni, and longtime standing alumni. Even after the last song, alumni stayed on stage to continue their reunion and to sing a few songs on their own.

This story is possible because of Amplify, a community storytelling initiative of Pamplin Media Group and Care Oregon. Amplify supports internships for high school journalists in the Portland metro region and aims to elevate the voices of student journalists from historically underrepresented groups, such as communities of color, low-income residents and others.


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