A chance to shine

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, February 12, 2011

Danni Bilidt performs a solo during concert choir practice Tuesday morning. The concert choir has been accepted to perform at the Minnesota Music Educators State Convention. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

If there were a state tournament for high school choirs, chances are the Austin Concert Choir would be there.

That’s how Choir Director Brian Johnson explains his choir’s recent acceptance to perform at the Minnesota Music Educators State Convention.

The Austin concert choir rehearses Tuesday morning in the choir room at the Austin High School annex. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“You could kind of compare it to going to state,” Johnson said.

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The Austin choir is among four high schools choirs from around the state chosen to perform at the convention, made up of choir, band and orchestra teachers of Minnesota.

Students from Austin will have the stage for 30 minutes — just enough time to demonstrate their ability to do it all.

The choir will perform eight songs, ranging from English folk tunes to more challenging numbers, including a song derived from a rhythmic Buddhist chant.

Johnson said, as an educator, he knows the choir will be performing for those who know their stuff. This is he and his choir’s chance to show others what choirs in rural Minnesota can accomplish.

“I’m proud of what the kids here in Austin can do,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things happening.”

This is the fourth time the choir is making the trip to the state convention since Johnson first began directing at the school in 1987. In May, Johnson submitted a recording of the choir for consideration. Because this year’s choir had yet to form, Johnson had to use a demo recording of his 2009-10 choir, which means this year’s choir members have to live up to the standard set by those who went before them.

Alex Knoll sings a solo during rehearsal Tuesday. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Being chosen in and of itself is an accomplishment Johnson feels he and his choir should be proud of.

“I think it’s a very big deal,” he said. “They only select no more than for high school choirs from around the state.”

Johnson said, as a spectator in year’s past, he’s walked away from performances with ideas for his own choir — ideas that pushed he and his students to be even better.

Choir students are working in overdrive to master songs for the Feb. 18 performance.

Although they are using some numbers from their fall and winter performances, they do have new songs to learn.

They’ll also use songs set for their upcoming spring show in March, but will have to perfect them for the convention.

The challenge of preparing for the big show itself is something Johnson feels is positive for the choir.

“It’s good because they get to push and stretch themselves farther than they would otherwise,” Johnson said.

The choir is set to perform at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, across from the convention center.

While the convention is for educators, Johnson said it is open to the public.

Those interested in attending should contact Johnson at 460-1800, ext. 0420 for passes.