Conservatives tend to be skeptical of the public schools, which too often put more stock in political correctness than either academic achievement or traditional values. So when the public schools do something well, it’s good to take notice.
In the school district where I live, a concert is put on annually by the four high school choirs, plus a little kids’ choir of elementary school children, of which my youngest daughter is a member. Participation in the high school choirs is competitive and their quality is high. A director for the concert is brought in from the outside, generally from a college. The concert begins with a couple of numbers by the kids’ choir; this year, they started with a medley of The Pledge of Allegiance and America the Beautiful. The crowd–I live in a middle-of-the-road, non-elite area–loved it. The four high school choirs perform separately, and then at the end, they combine in a single large choir for a couple of songs. Most of the music sung is classical; lots of it is religious, often in Latin. As I said, the quality is high.
For the finale, they bring out the kids’ choir to sing with all four high schools. This year, the finale was Battle Hymn of the Republic. I found the arrangement deeply moving. The little kids get the first verse to themselves, then the high schoolers join in. A small band accompanies the choir. I filmed the song with my digital camera. As some of our readers no doubt know, it is hard to export digital camera video into formats that are suitable for posting on the web. I used a program called Snapz Pro X to do, in effect, a screen capture of the MPG video in Quicktime. I then converted the Quicktime video to Flash using On 2 Flix and uploaded it to our server. The quality no doubt suffers a bit in these transitions, yet I think the performance is preserved pretty well.
Anyway, here it is. I hope it’s a day-brightener for you, as it was for me. If you can keep a dry eye to the end, you’re made of sterner stuff than me. I wasn’t the only one, though; the applause that followed the performance was absolutely deafening:
PAUL adds: I live in a left-side-of-the-road area. One of my daughters participated for four years in high school choirs and each year I attended at least one concert. I can’t say for sure that I never heard any of the school’s groups sing something patriotic, but I don’t recall such a thing. Although I could count on hearing a few numbers sung in English, the music director favored Canadian song-writers.
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