After months of practice, choirs from Scranton, Belfield, South Heart, Hettinger, and Bowman gathered at Bowman County School last week to sing together in the 16th Annual Choirfest music festival.
By Frank Turner
The music festival, according to Band and Choir Director Charmaine Martian, gives students a chance to travel around the region and perform in new areas with new people.
“The choir fest allows students in small schools to participate in a larger choir with a guest conductor,” said Martian.
Every year, a different area school hosts the music festival. This year, Bowman hosted the event, however South Heart will host the festival next year.
In total, over 125 choir students sang in the festival. Martain said that every student in each respective town’s choir gets to participate and there are no auditions for the event. Students practice the music before they get the festival and piece everything together the night of the performance.
“In one afternoon, over four hours, the kids work on blending as a group with the guest conductor,” said Martian.
For the 16th Annual Choirfest, Guest Conductor Larry Swingen, a retired vocal and general music teacher, traveled from Fargo to direct the festival and work with the choir students. After a long practice session, the group performed in the Bowman Public School gym for a free-admission audience.
“In the past, local directors used to conduct, but more recently we found it more beneficial to bring in a guest conductor so the kids get a chance to work with somebody new,” said Martain.
This year, the choir students performed a multitude of varying upbeat songs. In total the choirs sang five pieces together for an audience of over 200 people. Overall, Martain said she was very impressed with the performance.
“The kids were focused and engaged, and they responded very well to the guest conductors needs and what he wanted to hear,” said Martain. “It was a very well put together concert.”
Martain continued, “I’m glad we get a chance to do the Choirfest. It gives the kids in our smaller schools an opportunity to sing with larger choirs. It really boosts their confidence levels so they can bring that energy back to our smaller choirs and produce bigger sound as well.”