Messenger staff writer
Fort Dodge Senior High's A Capella choir earned the silver medal at the 28th annual Jefferson Show Choir Invitational in Cedar Rapids on March 10.
"It's a big event," Joe Svendsen, choir director, said. "They have show choirs, jazz choirs, soloists. It draws over 50 performing groups for all those different events."
FDSH competed in the choir concert portion of the invitational. It was the second competition of the year for the senior high, which had 55 students participating. Svendsen said he was pleased to place second.
"We're excited to do well," he said. "It shows our kids are talented and care a lot, and are committed to being excellent singers."
FDSH principal Dave Keane said he was proud of the group's accomplishment.
"We're very proud of our fine arts programs," he said. "A Capella is kind of our top choir, and they've been invited several places to sing. Getting second place in Cedar Rapids, that's awesome."
In January, FDSH competed in the Onalaska Classic choir competition in Wisconsin, where the group received a bronze medal for its second consecutive year. FDSH also received the Caption Award for best brass section among all concert choirs.
According to Svendsen, the award is the result of his students' hard work.
"They are very gifted, and I'm excited for our future as they continue to work to be even better," he said.
Their success is also the result of many efforts, Svendsen said.
"Practice, focus and commitment are a big part of our success. And not just from the kids, but also it takes a lot of support," he said. "It takes parents to chaperone and drive. We have to raise money so that we can afford to travel to these places. We have to have administrators who support what we do. All of these people have to be invested in us having success."
While the choir group is done competing for this school year, the students will participate in the Iowa High School Music Association large group music festival in May. The group will be judged at the event, though it is not a competition, Svendsen said.
The ensemble group is comprised of the school's most advanced singers, Svendsen said.
"They have to be assessed, and audition at the end of the school year," he said. "They're in it for the year and they commit themselves to working on more advanced musical concepts and more challenging music."
Svendsen said his students are continuing the tradition of excellence of the school's A Capella group.
"It's been around for 80 years this year," he said. "It was founded in 1932, and since that time it's had a rich tradition of excellence, whether its musical theater or concert music, all-state musicians, or chamber choir. All of those things have led this group to be an exceptional ensemble."
According to Svendsen, there is something greater than placing second.
"In the end, the piece of plastic and wood that we bring home, that has a number scratched into it, is less important than all of the work that goes into getting ready to compete," he said. "The place is nice, and we're excited that the students' abilities are being recognized, their hard work is being recognized, but it's the work and the attitude and the preparation that goes into it that makes them good."
He added, "We are happy with second place, but I'm happier with all the work they've done to get there."
Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141