Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mt. Vernon Choir Takes on Challenge Singers Will Perform Work by Grammy Winner

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mt. Vernon Choir Takes on Challenge Singers Will Perform Work by Grammy Winner

Article excerpt

The pressure is on. The Mt. Vernon High School Fine Arts Academy Choir has worked for months on Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin's "Calling All Dawns."

Tin will join the audience when the students perform his music at 2 p.m. Sunday in the high school auditorium with members of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Mt. Vernon's Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Alfred Savia, the philharmonic's music director.

The composer flew in from Los Angeles, Wednesday, to work with the students as an artist in residence as they prepare for their performance.

Last week, however, they were still rehearsing with their own choral director, Dana Taylor, getting ready for Tin's arrival.

Taylor stood in front of 30 sitting students, waiting for silence to fall on the school's choir room. As the students slowly realized Taylor was ready to begin, they stopped their conversations and faced the front of the choir room. He waited for complete silence.

"We are starting with 'Baba Yetu," so everyone open up your music, and if you have a solo please stand when it's time," Taylor said.

He raised his hands signaling the beginning of the song, and sophomore Melanie Davis stood up to start with a soft solo. The choir worked its way through the 12 songs in "Calling All Dawns," showcasing many students' solos.

"Two years ago we did the first song from the series, 'Baba Yetu' (The Lord's Prayer in Swahili), and the students loved it, so every once and a while we would check to see if the rest of his work was available, and it finally was at the start of this year," Taylor said.

The work is inspired by life, death and rebirth and represents cultures across the world. Each song is in a different language - French, Portuguese, Latin, Maori, Swahili, Farsi, Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Gaelic and Polish.

"Calling All Dawns" won 2011 Grammys for Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for Tin, who is working with the choir and the instrumentalists for Sunday's concert.

"It's a peculiar challenge for the students to sing in twelve different languages within an hour, but they have all seemed to pick it up rather quickly and enjoyed the work," Taylor said. …

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