Delaware News

Hayes choir set to impress at OMEA conference

Symphonic choir, Dempsey group chosen to sing during event

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Roughly 150 choirs from across Ohio auditioned to perform at the Ohio Music Education Association Professional Development Conference, set Feb. 7 in downtown Columbus.

The Delaware Hayes High School symphonic choir and the Dempsey Singers of Dempsey Middle School are among the chosen few that made the cut.

The symphonic choir features 63 sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Choral director Dara Gillis said the judges at the audition were looking for a high-caliber performance from a choir that could be presented to the thousands of band, orchestra and choir educators who attend the conference.

Although the Hayes symphonic choir has been selected in the past to take part in demonstrations or workshops, this is the first time it has been chosen to perform for the conference.

Conference workshops cover everything from how to work with young singers to dealing with changing male voices.

The performance portion of the conference is designed to inspire music educators, giving them ideas about music selection that they can take home to their respective schools.

"We will be putting on a concert for music educators who are there to receive training," Gillis said. "OMEA wanted to showcase superior choirs to them and we were chosen as one of them."

The 45-minute concert will include traditional Renaissance music, contemporary music and even a Carly Simon tune.

Gillis said preparing for the concert is a difficult process and requires a lot of work on the part of the students.

Gillis works with six choirs at the high school, but the symphonic choir is expected to be a step above.

"This is one of our advanced choirs and they are held to a very high academic standard. They are a high public-presentation choir," she said. "They have to hold themselves to a high expectation and present themselves with pride."

Gillis said the choir is learning how to work in cohesion with other people, which is why there aren't a lot of soloists in the group.

"We want them to work with each other in a group; it's not just about the individuals," she said.

The choir's performances run the gamut when it comes to musical styles, and Gillis said there is enough variety that every student will sing something they enjoy.

Choir students often participate in vocal activities during their college years, and some become music majors, Gillis said.

Although they're held to high standards, it's not all work, she said.

"I really am working to instill a passion in them for the music that they sing," Gillis said. "I want them to have a passion for music itself."

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