Olentangy Valley News

Concert remembers Liberty student lost in 2008

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When Sydney Siefert was killed in an April 2008 car crash, Olentangy Liberty High School lost one of its most beautiful voices.

When Liberty students lift their voices in song at a memorial concert this weekend, they hope it sends a powerful message: Sydney has not been forgotten.

The Olentangy Liberty Chorale and Choraliers will perform a concert in honor of Sydney at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at St. Joan of Arc Church, 10700 S. Liberty St. in Powell.

Doug O'Neal, the high school's vocal music coordinator, said the local community was "devastated" when Sydney and fellow Liberty student Jordan Cannon were killed in a car crash almost six years ago on state Route 315.

He said he and his students decided to cancel a trip to a state choir competition in order to attend Sydney's funeral.

O'Neal still remembers the powerful moment when choir members sang a devotional song at the service.

"I looked out at the students ... as it got to the climax of the song -- you could just see the release of the emotions as they got to Alleluia," he said.

O'Neal hopes Liberty alumni and any community members who can attend will return to St. Joan of Arc Church, the site of the funeral, to remember Sydney this weekend.

Given Sydney's love of music, O'Neal said he thought the concert was a fitting way to remember his former student. He said anyone who watched Sydney sing would see music held a special place in her heart.

"You could always tell she was connecting with the music when she performed," O'Neal said.

Sydney's love of music and the Liberty choir program was so strong, her parents requested any donations in her name be made in support of the vocal music program.

After using that funding for needs such as new equipment in the past, O'Neal said the remainder of the funding was used to produce the memorial concert.

The program commissioned composer and music instructor Craig Courtney to write a piece in Sydney's memory for the concert. Courtney, a part-time instructor at Capital University who lives in Columbus, has performed, taught and composed throughout the United States and overseas.

O'Neal said Courtney's familiarity with devotional music and memorial pieces made him the right choice to write the song.

Titled Promise, the piece reflects Sydney's decision to be an organ donor, O'Neal said.

"The poetry in it uses (situations) that may seem bad but then turn around and turn into something wonderful," he said.

The rest of the selections the students will perform at the concert also will be Courtney's compositions.

Although the song and concert represent the last use of the money from the Sydney Siefert Memorial Choir Fund, O'Neal said he views the concert as less of an end and more of a new beginning.

Whenever someone plays or sings that song, they'll be remembering Sydney, he said.

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