‘There is something really special about them’; Ellis Middle School 8th grade choir invited to conference

Published 9:07 am Friday, October 27, 2017

It was no surprise to Ellis Middle School choir director Maria Wilson that her eighth grade choir was invited to sing at a conference of choral directors — an invitation only extended to a hanful of other schools in Minnesota.

On top of that, they were invited without audition — something not ordinarily done.

“They just knew I had awesome choirs,” Wilson said with a laugh.

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The choir, 97 members strong, will travel to the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota state conference on Nov. 17 at St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. Traveling with them will be accompanist Lorene Strobel from MacPhail Center for Music.

The Ellis Middle School choir has been selected to perform at the Choral Directors Conference.

“I have been in honor choir last year at that church and it was amazing,” said Denni Heimer, 13. “I wonder if some in the choir understand what a big deal this is — singing in front professionals; it is so amazing to be chosen.”

Ivan Rodriguez, 14, agreed.

“I think they chose us because we’re fast learners and we’re all willing to cooperate,” he said.

Wilson said her goal is to show her colleagues at the conference that “we can do quality literature with an unauditioned choir,” she said. “It is a choir because they love to come together and sing.”

The Ellis Middle School Choir wraps up the song “900 Miles from Home” during a rehearsal Thursday afternoon.

Wilson has a particular love for this group. Even though eighth grade voices are hard to direct — since those voices are changing as they come into adolescence — “they have
gifts; there is something really special about them.”

She also loves the diversity of the choir, and “I think it’s wonderful that we have a choir that is so representative of our community.” All students are in the choir because they choose to be, she said.

But overall, she said, “I am so glad they have the opportunity to show what they can do; to show how hard they have worked, to have that acknowledgement.”