MUSIC MONDAY: West Virginia University Inaugural HS Choral Festival feat. Eric Whitacre


MORGANTOWN, WV (WBOY) – In an event of it’s kind over the weekend, musicians from all across the region came to Morgantown for a one of a kind event, one that will continue for years to come.

“And I joined choir to meet the girls, and the very first piece that I sang was the Requiem by Mozart, and it utterly changed my life”, says Eric Whitacre, Grammy Award Winning Composer and Conductor who was the guest conductor for the Inaugural West Virginia University High School Choral Festival this past weekend.

“Whitacre is that rare thing, a modern composer who is both popular and original” — The Daily Telegraph, London. Eric Whitacre is one of the most popular musicians of his generation. His concert music has been performed throughout the world by millions of amateur and professional musicians alike, while his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united singers from over 110 different countries. All of the music that was performed at the inaugural festival was written by Eric Whitacre, and all of the choirs that participated we’re conducted by him as well, some with only 20 minutes of rehearsal time with Whitacre before hitting the stage.

And from then on Eric has been sharing his music with the world, including these high school and college students at WVU’s Inaugural High School Choral Festival, an event that they could not miss.

Megan Budnicki, a Senior from Williamsport High School in Williamsport, Maryland says “It’s tremendous. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Not many of these opportunities come up”. 

“For me, I think it is really exciting that we have students from some of the best choirs in our state and other states to perform, but we also have students who sing in really small groups in schools who don’t have great choral programs, but their teachers are really dedicated and want to bring them to this event. So, we have some schools that are bringing 3 students, and some that are bringing 30 students”, says Kym Scott, Director of Choral Activites for West Virginia University.

And students say they came here not just for the experience, but because of how Eric composes his music.

“It’s the story. The purity of the words, and the meanings of everything that’s put together to it. It just really relaxes and makes you understand where the conductor is coming from”, Budnicki says.

When asked about his first experience in West Virginia, Eric says, “I’ve really fallen in love with the area, and West Virginia, and Morgantown, so I can’t wait to come back.”

In a once in a lifetime opportunity, these students learned, Where Words Fail, Music Speaks.

The following high schools in the region sent students to participate in the inaugural high school choral festival at West Virginia University:

  • Annville Cleona Secondary School – Sarah Strouse, Director
  • Appalachian Children’s Chorus – Selina Midkiff, Director
  • Boonsboro High School – Holly Gardenhour, Director
  • Chancellor High School – Rhonda Miller, Director
  • Chapmanville Regional High School – Brenda Hager, Director
  • Elizabeth Forward High School – Angie Millren, Director
  • Derry Area High School – Melody Vigo, Director
  • Elkins High School – Liz Marshall-MacVean, Director
  • Jeanette High School – Joel Ziler, Director
  • Kiski Area High School – Tammy Hampshire, Director
  • Laurel Highlands High School – Lauren Groves, Director
  • Lewis County High School – Martina Norman, Director
  • Logan High School – Ellen Ramey, Director
  • Magnolia High School – Tom Myers, Director
  • Manassas Park High School – Kristian Schenck, Director
  • Morgantown High School – Lauren Lindsey, Director
  • Mount Lebanon High School – Sarah Brenneman, Director
  • Parkersburg High School – Pamela McClain, Director
  • Pocahontas County High School – Robert Mann, Director
  • Ravenswood High School – Joyce Good-Pitchford, Director
  • Ripley High School – Annie Hancock, Director
  • Riverview Jr./Sr. High School – Nathan Hart, Director
  • Southside Area High School – Carly Wazenegger, Director
  • Saint Francis de Sales Parrish – Donna Kinsey, Director
  • Saint Ursula Parish – Christopher Brewer, Director
  • Susquenita High School – Charles Bateman, Director
  • Thomas Jefferson High School
  • Top of Virginia Youth Chorale – Patty Moffett Austin, Director
  • Uniontown Area High School – Megan Cerullo, Director
  • University High School – Barry Kolar, Director
  • Wahama High School – Rachel Reynolds, Director
  • Williamsport High School – Michelle Rafter, Director
  • West Virginia University Chamber Singers – Kym Scott, Director
  • West Virginia University Men’s Chorus – Kym Scott, Director
  • West Virginia University Women’s Chorus – Kym Scott, Director

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