By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac High choir, band both go to state

The 66-member choir, which performs this afternoon in vocal competition in Newberg, is making its third state contest appearance in a row, director Robin Pederson said.

The 44-member band, which performs Saturday morning in instrumental competition at Oregon State University, hasn’t been to state in many years, said director Jeff Hornick.

To earn a spot at state, the band and the choir had to earn high scores in regional qualifying competitions. In addition, they had to submit recordings for judging. In both cases, they were among a small number of qualifying Class 6A high schools to receive invitations to perform.

The band from Amity High School and choirs from the Delphian School, Perrydale, Western Mennonite and Veritas School in Newberg also qualified for state in the small schools division. Newberg High’s choir, band and orchestra qualified, as well.

Going to the state competition is exciting, Hornick said.

“It’s a big feather in the kids’ hats,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard over the years and this year, especially, things seemed to come together.”

Both directors are thrilled their students will have a chance to show their skills, work with adjudicators and listen to other performing groups at state.

“We go to learn,” Pederson said.

The vocal competition, being held at George Fox University, includes workshops with nationally recognized judges. One session focuses on sight-reading, a skill Pederson stresses with her students. “I want them to be able to walk into any choir for the rest of their lives and be able to read music,” she said. “I want them to become literate musicians.”

Pederson and her group plan to leave McMinnville at noon so they’d have time to listen to several other choirs before their performance time. “That gives kids an opportunity to hear what they’re doing, and for self-reflection,” she said.

At 4, they will perform a set that includes “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria. The renaissance motet was Pederson’s choice from a list of songs suggested by the state; each choir must do one of the recommended numbers.

In addition, the Mac High choir will sing “Gloria” from “Missa Kenya,” an ancient text with a modern setting; “I Am the Resurrection and the Life,” a double choir work by Heinrich Schutz; and “Ritmo,” a rhythmic piece by Dan Davidson. The latter features two choir members playing a four-hand piano part along with the vocals.

“It’s a fun set, really varied, that challenged the students and should be fresh for the judges,” Pederson said.

Mac High musicians will play only one piece, but it’s a lengthy, complex one: “Gloriosa” by Japanese composer Yasuhide Ito. The 20-minute, three movement work tells the story of the hidden Christians of Nagasaki, who went into hiding when the feudal Japanese leaders expelled Western missionaries from the country. The music includes Gregorian chant, traditional Japanese folk tunes and 19th century Christian melodies.

“We are better for having spent the time working on it,” Hornick said. “It’s become one of my all-time favorite pieces, and I can’t wait to teach it again.”

He said his students are looking forward to performing Saturday. “State’s a whole different level than the other competitions we’ve been to,” he said. “We’ll go and represent MHS well.”

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