MOUNT OLIVE – More than 150 middle school, high school, and community college students from Wayne, Johnston, Duplin, Lenoir, Wake and New Hanover counties had the opportunity to experience a collegiate choral experience with this year’s All-Star Choir Festival. The festival was a day-long immersive learning experience with choir students and directors being exposed to various musical techniques from UMO faculty.
This year’s festival was unique from previous events in multiple ways. “This year, I selected a more difficult repertoire than I have in the past, providing a good challenge for attendees,” said Jonathan Saeger, assistant professor of music and director of the UMO Concert Choir.
In addition to more challenging musical selections, school choir directors had the unique opportunity to earn Continuing Education Units toward their North Carolina Licensure renewals. Three workshops were held throughout the day by UMO faculty, and participating directors earned CEUs for their participation.
Saeger reiterated that the focus of this year’s event was less specifically skill-based, but instead a more holistic idea. “By coming together, we may all make music that transcends what our individual selves and our various school choirs can do on our own,” he said.
UMO students, past and present, also played a prominent role in the event. Thirty-seven current students participated in the full-day activities and had also put in hours of preparations prior to the start of the event.
Students helped Saeger publicize, organize and set up the event, direct traffic, helped visiting students navigate the campus and assisted with breakdown at the close of the event. Three UMO alumni were in attendance as choir directors, demonstrating the impact that UMO has on the community as a whole.
The festival came to an end following the final concert of the day, a cumulative performance consisting of music from the Baroque Era to Gospel to South African culture to modern choral music.
Directors and students alike found value in the event. “The All-Star Choir Festival with the University of Mount Olive is invaluable. Our students don’t typically have opportunities such as this because we’re homeschoolers and our resources are limited. It’s quite a unique opportunity to be able to participate,” said DeAna Boren from Seymour Johnson 4-H Home Educators.
“We learned a lot of things about the songs themselves, and had an amazing time learning and performing together. We really loved Mr. Saeger’s enthusiasm throughout the entire practice and performance. We all hope we can perform together again another time,” said Wayne Community College student Laney Barbour.
— From University of Mount Olive Public Relations