CRESTVIEW — Few events excite culture lovers like the start of the new season. Every fall, throughout the country, in communities large and small, gallery openings, concert and theater previews prepare patrons for the excitement to come throughout the rest of the cultural season.
With Crestview's View From the Stage community theater troupe having not announced any forthcoming productions, and the North Okaloosa Community Band not performing until Sept. 23, culture vultures turn to our schools to satisfy their longing for the performing arts.
And the north county's flagship performing arts institution — Crestview High School — seldom fails to please. With live band, choral music and stage productions, our young performers do more than prepare for careers in the performing arts.
They delight and entertain the whole community as well.
The school's massive band introduced its new half-time show a couple weeks ago. Then on Aug. 24 the high school chorus gave a sneak preview of wonderful things to come during its annual potluck dinner and attendant mini-concert.
Choral Music Director Kevin Lusk, starting his 23nd year at CHS, took advantage of a sympathetic audience of parents, siblings, friends and alumni to instruct the chorus during the preview.
Some of the more than 100 members were already off-book for each choir's single performance, yet even those who had to rely on their sheet music gave beautiful performances.
The massed chorus started the evening with a rousing rendition of the Crestview High alma mater, followed by the Women's Choir's beautiful "When I Am Silent."
Chorale, the elite mixed choir, followed with an equally gorgeous rendition of "One Candle," featuring pleasing soloists Evelyn Gibson and Kevin Giebelhaus. The 16-voice Men's Choir likewise pleased with the folksy "Down in the Valley."
The performance wrapped up with the all-girl Destiny show choir's performance of The Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine," a selection that will be part of the group's spring concert, which will have a "sunshiney summer theme," Lusk said.
An enthusiastic applause greeted each choir's performance, to which the visibly pleased Lusk said, "Not bad for a week's worth of work."
This year, however, we will miss performances by Chanticleer, the mixed show choir. Sadly, not enough boys auditioned for the group, Lusk said.
This being a "travel year," Lusk will be taking the group to a competition in San Antonio in the spring, where they will absorb Texas history as well as perform. Destiny will compete in several regional competitions in the spring. Fundraising is underway to finance these educational travels.
"We're excited to have a great group of new kids," Lusk said. "We got a lot of new guys this year. It's going to be a great year."
"I've supported chorus my whole life," said junior Caitlyn LaRoche, adding that her mom, Sara LaRoche, one of the program's parent leaders, was also a chorus student under Lusk's direction.
"I'm totally excited for them," her friend, Austin Phillips, said. Phillips is a senior who turned out Monday night to support the chorus' 2017-18 debut.