CRESTVIEW — The 130-member Crestview High School chorus made its 2012-13 debut Sept. 8 before family members, friends and choral alumni who filled the high school’s Pearl Tyner Auditorium. The two show choirs, the all-female group Destiny and the co-ed Chanticleer joined the Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir and Chorale.
Chorale opened the evening with the traditional “How Can I Keep from Singing,” seemingly the group’s anthem for the year. Before the music began, the audience was already eager for a night of vocal talent.
“Good job!” called a child’s voice from the front row after Chorale completed a series of vocal warm-ups.
The Women’s Choir, traditionally the largest of the chorus’ groups, filled the risers, marking the first time the girls sang together as a group, as its newest members had been rehearsing separately from the others.
“The girls sang a lovely, soft love song,” Lusk said when introducing the Man’s Choir. Then, to laughter, he added, “The boys aren’t.”
With extra guys in the chorus this year, the Men’s Choir sounded fuller and more robust as they performed “Ruby.”
“The song we’re doing tonight is real fast,” senior Olivia Dunn commented before Chanticleer performed “Sea Cruise,” which had been a huge 1959 doo-wop hit for Frankie Ford. “We’re ready for it.”
Olivia’s fellow senior, Alex Andrews, was among the chorus members eager to get the new season underway.
“I’m ready to get started,” Alex said during the bodacious pot-luck supper that proceeded the performance. “Let’s get going!”
Alex has been singing in school choruses since middle school and now is the bass section leader. He praised Davidson Middle School choral music instructor Keitha Bledsoe, who recognized his talent and helped him prepare for singing in Lusk’s program.
“I went alto, alto, bass, bass, bass, bass,” Alex said, describing his choral section, which changed as his voice changed.
With an ambitious first semester planned, including show choir competitions in Mississippi and Georgia, regional choral competitions, performing at Disney World at the beginning of December, followed by the Dec. 13 Christmas concert, the chorus members are working as hard after class to raise travel funds as they are at their art during school hours.
Slightly less than $100,000 must be raised this year. On years when the chorus makes a major trip, such as their past appearances at choral festivals in San Francisco, New York, London and last spring’s trip to Toronto, travel expenses can be as high as $300,000, Lusk said. With tightened district budgets, it all must be raised from local supporters.
“We’re constantly fund-raising,” Lusk said.
The debut concert was quickly followed by a Krispie Kreme doughnut sale and the semester’s second carwash. Soon, chorus members will be selling cheesecakes, Lusk said. However, the hard work pays off when the chorus members perfect their talents, expand their cultural horizons in distant cities, and learn performance poise and etiquette.
Like many chorus students before him, Alex intends to continue his music studies after he graduates in May. His current plans are to major in education at Northwest Florida State College and minor in music. Having been in the Crestview High chorus for three years now, Alex faces his senior year with confidence.
“It feels good knowing a lot of the music,” he said. “I am able to share that experience with the younger kids. We do a lot of mentoring as section leaders. It’s our role to help the new kids.”