by Shannon M. Ursem
West Orange High School Choir Department has embarked on an exciting, action-packed year. The department consists of nine different choirs with approximately 275 students, all of whom are under the direction of Jeffrey Redding, Ph.D., director of choral activities; and Daryl Yasay, associate choral director.
West Orange High School’s choir performs its 2015-16 Winter Concert with the Garden Community Choir and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
The choirs range from introductory to advanced, as well as a very active a cappella group that performs in the community. Throughout the years, the department has competed at the county and state levels, receiving superior ratings this past year in individual competitions and choral festivals. The choral program will be representing Florida at the American Choral Directors Association conference with guest soloist LaRue Howard. In 2006, they competed internationally in Verona, Italy, at the 17th Concorso Internationale di Canto Corale. Redding was even a guest judge at this festival last year, representing the United States.
During the last school year, Bel Canto and Concert Choir competed at the Heritage Festival of Gold in Washington, D.C. The Women’s Chorale competed in Festival Disney and received awards for superior choir, best in class and gold. All the choirs have a showcase in the form of winter and spring concerts that are held at First United Methodist Church of Orlando. This is because of the mass number of people who attend the events. In the past, they have had the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as their musical accompaniment. They have also performed with Sisaundra Lewis of The Voice and the Garden Community Choir. The group has performed at venues in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chicago; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Italy.
The Concert Choir and Bel Canto have performed for many years as part of Disney’s Candlelight Processional, and, for the first time last year, Redding was invited to be a guest conductor at the prestigious event. It was just announced that he will be returning this year with engagements. During the summer, they sang with the Orange County Public Schools district choir as a tribute to the Pulse nightclub shooting victims and those who had lost loved ones.
All of their hard work and discipline have paid off, as the school year is ramping up to be the busiest and best yet. The year started with Noise Complaint, an a cappella (pop/contemporary music) group, performing at The Crossings Church in Winter Garden. Noise Complaint will record its first EP this winter with a release to iTunes and Spotify. They have the opportunity to compete in the International Competition of High School A Cappella, as well as at The Betsy’s A Cappella Festival in Miami and the National A Cappella Convention in Memphis, Tennessee. The group is also available to entertain for both private and community functions.
Bel Canto, the women’s advanced choir, was invited to perform at The American Choral Directors Association National Convention in Minneapolis, is auditioning for the Disney Candlelight Processional, and will be traveling to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Trey Jacobs, director of choirs at Head Middle Magnet School in Nashville, Tennessee. The group will also perform the works of American composer André J. Thomas, director of chorale activities and professor of choral music education at Florida State University, who will also direct them.
The Concert Choir, with both men and women, will also be auditioning for the Disney Candlelight Processional and performing at Carnegie Hall. Women’s Chorale will compete in Atlanta and Women’s Glee will compete at Festival of Disney in the spring of 2017.
WOHS’s Choir Department officials are proud to announce that Craig Jessop, former music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, will be the guest conductor for the school’s Winter Concert, with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as accompaniment. The Winter Concert will be held at First United Methodist Church of Orlando on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets go on sale next month.
For more information about future fundraising events, to book Noise Complaint to perform at a function, to purchase tickets for a performance, or to make a donation to the WOHS Choir Department, visit www.westorangehschoir.com on the web. Some performances are also posted on YouTube. ª