FAIRFIELD — Mount Desert Island schools brought home some precious metals from the Maine State Vocal Jazz Festival, held at Lawrence High School in Fairfield, this past weekend.
As ever, Bronwyn Kortge’s MDIHS Mixed Choir blew away the competition in Division One with their stunning performance of “Requiem,” an amalgam of more than a century of music ranging from Brahms to Sheehan to Sia.
They earned not only the overall championship with the top-scoring gold medal and 98 out of a possible 100 points, but one of four special vocal honors for Oriahnna Kelley’s angelic soprano in a Brahms hymn, “Ye Now Are Sorrowful.”
The choreography team of Ashley Graves, Molly Collins, Carolyn Graber and Kortge also took top honors.
Judges were also impressed by the quality and independence of the pit orchestra, led by MDIHS senior Irene Choi. Compliments were given to Eric Henry’s set, Marilee Marchese’s costumes, and the makeup team, which included Andrea Howell, Patty Savoie, Peggy Knox, Cristy Benson, Laura Reinholdt, Carrie Eason, Gabby Merchant and Rosie Avila.
One judge said that the overall effect of the visual components of the show was “stunning” and “poignant,” and particularly loved a dance duet featuring Molly Collins and Lily Crikelair.
All the soloists in “Requiem” earned “1” ratings, the highest possible at the festival. They were Kelley, Ivy Sanborn, Rylee Burns, September Murray, Adam Christianson, Alex Eason and Graber
“In the hallway I overheard members of another community talking about our performance,” says Kortge. “They were saying how the quality of our shows make sense considering their belief that we begin practicing in August, work all year long and have professional dancers come in to choreograph our show and help us drill our performance.
“The fact is that our kids do work very hard, starting in the fall,” she continued. “They put their hearts and souls into the creative process, including selecting and arranging the musical score, envisioning, choreographing, teaching, editing and drilling.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids for all the hard work, literal blood, sweat and tears that they have put into this show, and the amount of love and care with which they have treated one another and poured into their performances.”
The Trojan Trebs earned a bronze medal also put on a fine performance of contemporary pop tunes titled “Unmasked.” Ava Twombley received a coveted outstanding solo award for “Breathin’.’”
The Trebs were directed by Frank Bachman and Catie Forthofer.
Middle school competition
At the middle school festival Friday, the Show Stoppers also brought home their first gold medal. Directed by Rebecca Edmonson with help from Jacque Fitzpatrick, Dani Robbins and April Hansbury, the Show Stoppers this year included students from Conners Emerson, Mount Desert Elementary and The Community School.
The group finished second in their division with a score of 98 for “Cafe Soiree,” a mix of show tunes and pop songs.
They also received special honors from judges for their “sophisticated and challenging” choreography from Robbins and Fitzpatrick. A good reason for that dancing success was the solid beat laid down by percussionist Soren Hopkins-Goff, who was also singled out for special honors.
“I am so proud of our young students, with special leadership from the older members of the choir,” said Edmondson, “for making a really difficult show into something the judges appreciated and understood.”
She added that to finish second out of a dozen large middle schools was quite an achievement.
Other area middle schools also mined some serious silver with both Pemetic Elementary School and Trenton Elementary School bringing home those medals and some high praise from judges for their very different but excellent performances of “Les Miserables” and “Another Disney Love Story?” respectively.
All of the soloists in both groups received top ratings.
Pemetic show choir director Ed Michaud says he couldn’t have been prouder of his kids.
“I have fallen in love with this production,” he says. “For the sincerity, passion and energy these students put into their performances.”
Mary de Koning, who directs the Trenton choir, says the performance was “by far our best showing.” They were within one point of placing second or third in their division.
“The judges were extremely impressed with the group’s vocal technique, especially their balance and blend,” she said. “They also really loved the arrangement; especially that it had such an applicable message for middle schoolers. One judge said she had a hard time finding just one student to watch because all their facial expressions were so animated.”
The Tremont Consolidated School’s show choir performed “Villlians,” a roundup of great evil songs like “Mother Knows Best” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” They were directed by Nicole Cardano and Allison Putnam.
In the program from Thursday’s Show Choir Extravaganza, Cardano and Putnam thanked Shane Ellis, who arranged the music, and Jandrea True, the school’s principal, “who has encouraged our growth from the start.”