MDI High School Mixed Show Choir performs "The Fire Prince and The Ice Maiden" Friday at the district show choir competition in Ellsworth. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS DOUGHERTY

Show choirs are the ‘bomb!’

ELLSWORTH — The predicted “bomb cyclone” was a no show around here last Friday, but the students of area high schools and middle schools sure brought it on with a veritable blizzard of song and dance at the District VI Vocal Jazz Festival at Ellsworth High School.

All the participating schools received either a 1 or 2 rating from judges Jason Anderson and Cami Carter and will go on to the state finals in Millinocket on April 7. Local audiences will have another chance to see these performances at a Show Choir Extravaganza set for Mount Desert Island High School on Thursday, April 5, at 6 p.m.

Both the Mount Desert Island High School show choirs performed short but tantalizing works-in-progress that earned 1 ratings from the judges.

Bronwyn Kortge’s Mixed Choir once again has cobbled together seemingly unrelated music ranging from jazz to Mozart to tell a musical fable of “The Fire Prince and The Ice Maiden.” It began with a stunning jazz solo from sophomore Ivy Sanborn, a girl who began her show choir career at the Trenton school and has found her true vocal calling here as a velvet-voiced jazz singer. Another thrilling moment was delivered by the trio of Rylee Burns, Bonnie Snyder and Desmond Reifsnyder in full falsetto. And, as ever, the choreography by Kortge, Don Grieco and student Rosie Avila was both strange and wonderful.

Frank Bachman collaborated with MDI High School alumna Catherine Forthofer for the Trojan Trebs production of “Evolution,” a medley of pop songs. They managed to deliver some gorgeous harmonies and complex, graceful moves that left us all wanting more.

Ed Michaud’s group from Pemetic Elementary School went with the musical “Chess.” It must be said that watching these youngsters with their angry little faces singing about blocked visas and Cold War era political tensions was somewhat disconcerting. But they pulled it off, right down to some convincing Russian accents and some very challenging chorography designed by the students themselves.

Denali Wagstaff was a standout, managing to make herself heard above a babbling crowd. Ava Twombley’s enchantingly delicate soprano solo provided the only truly sweet moment, and once again, Caroline Musson proved she is a fierce little force to be reckoned with. An a cappella section went off the pitch rails, but they have plenty of time to work on that before states April 6, which they will go to with a 1 rating.

Rebecca Edmondson’s choir of students from Conners Emerson and Mount Desert Elementary schools also got a 1 rating for a mash-up of Jim Steinman rock songs, “Total Eclipse of the Sun,” “I Need a Hero” and others, from which they fashioned a loose story narrative. The black-and-red costumes and creepy set were gorgeous but an odd fit with the ‘80s era songs.

The Trenton School Trentones once again rose to the occasion with an ambitious performance of “Tuck Everlasting” tunes. Mary DeKoning has a distinctive manner of directing, which, in addition to giving her kids some interesting dance moves, is perhaps even more focused on creating beautiful tableaux moments within each song. Even though the musical’s songs themselves are not particularly memorable, this group gave them all some lovely visual as well as vocal moments.

Tremont’s show choir did not compete Friday, but will be part of the Extravaganza next month with a collection of songs from “Seussical, the Musical.”


Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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