LIFT EV­ERY VOICE

Young Roanoke singers in Eng­land for choir fes­ti­val

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY SARA GRE­GORY

ROANOKE, VA. | The Roanoke Val­ley Chil­dren’s Choir so­pra­nos re­al­ized im­me­di­ately they’d missed their cue.

While they gig­gled sheep­ishly, Kim David­son, the con­cert choir’s di­rec­tor for the past 30 years, si­lenced the al­tos with a wave of her arm. Ms. David­son cupped her hands and reached out to the so­pra­nos.

“An en­graved in­vi­ta­tion to the so­pra­nos,” Ms. David­son said with a smile. “Please join us.”

There was no time to waste at re­hearsals, the fi­nal ones be­fore the choir de­parted last month for Eng­land. The choir will per­form first at Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral and then travel to Lon­don to per­form at South­wark Cathe­dral.

It’s the choir’s sec­ond trip to per­form at the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Choir Fes­ti­val but the first time these 55 stu­dents will make the trip. At Can­ter­bury they’ll per­form the church’s daily choral even­song, an evening prayer ser­vice held daily for the past 1,400 years, with only two missed be­cause of war.

The choral even­song se­lec­tions are for­mal, steeped in the cathe­dral’s cen­turies-old choral tra­di­tion. It’s been chal­leng­ing mu­sic for the chil­dren’s choir to learn, Ms. David­son said.

“You just need to step into your com­fort­able shoes and sing this like you’ve been singing Gre­go­rian chants for your en­tire life,” Ms. David­son told the group.

This is the most mu­sic the choir has had to mem­o­rize and pre­pare for any fes­ti­val they’ve at­tended, said David Gepit­u­lan, 15.

“It’s very in­tim­i­dat­ing,” said Amie Uoti­nen, 14.

“It’s a lot of fun, though, get­ting to learn dif­fer­ent mu­sic and be­ing ex­posed to dif­fer­ent mu­sic,” said Alice Rad­jou, 16. “Es­pe­cially as young as we are, it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to learn dif­fer­ent lan­guages and com­posers.”

The choir has ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated the trip since it recorded an au­di­tion tape three years ago.

“It’s been a long wait,” David Gepit­u­lan said. “It’s fi­nally here.”

Most of what the choir has pre­pared are tra­di­tional even­song se­lec­tions, but their reper­toire also in­cludes an AfricanAmer­i­can spir­i­tual hymn, “Ride the Char­iot,” and The Bea­tles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Alice Rad­jou said her fa­vorite piece is “Ukuthula,” a Zulu hymn that means “peace.”

“We were singing it on Mon­day prac­tic­ing, and I ac­tu­ally started tear­ing up,” she said. “It’s such a pow­er­ful song.”

The con­cert choir’s last trip to Can­ter­bury in 2011 was eye-open­ing, Ms. David­son said. She’s look­ing for­ward to this group hav­ing sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

“I can even still hear the ring­ing sounds in those cathe­drals, and to see the chil­dren have that ex­pe­ri­ence, their view of the world, their view of singing, ev­ery­thing was just ex­panded,” she said. “It was just full of beau­ti­ful mo­ments.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

The Roanoke Val­ley Chil­dren’s Choir, di­rected by Kim David­son (left), re­hearsed for months to travel to Lon­don for the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Choir Fes­ti­val. At Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral, they’ll per­form the choral even­song, held daily for the past 1,400 years.

This trip is the choir’s sec­ond jour­ney to per­form at the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Choir Fes­ti­val, but the first time that the 55 cur­rent stu­dents will make the over­seas trip.

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