Shawnee Honor Choir to Perform at OBU

Shawnee Honor Choir, an auditioned choir of 58 fourth-through-seventh graders representing 22 schools in Shawnee and the surrounding area, will perform Sunday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. in Oklahoma Baptist University's Yarborough Auditorium in Raley Chapel. The concert is free and open to the public.

The choir is part of the Young Singers of Central Oklahoma, OBU's preparatory choirs. Shawnee Honor Choir is directed by Conchita Hansford, Music Preparatory Director and OBU faculty member since 1990. Dephanie Lelite serves as accompanist.

Shawnee Honor Choir performs in 12 schools annually, presents two formal public concerts each year and frequently performs at community events. The choir has performed four times at the Oklahoma Music Educators Association Convention in Tulsa. On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the choir performed at Russell Babb Elementary in Harrah, Grove and North Rock Creek. On Friday, Dec. 5, they will perform at Jefferson, Sequoyah and Will Rogers Elementary.

Shawnee Honor Choir will open their concert with "Sing We Now of Christmas," a French carol arranged by Joyce Eilers, then perform "Peaceful, Silent Night" an arrangement of "Silent Night" by Ruth Elaine Schram. Other selections include, "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy," a West Indies carol arranged by Dorothy and Tom Christopherson; "Night of Silence" by Daniel Kantor; "Minka," a Russian Christmas folk song arranged by Jill Ann Jones; "Jingle All the Way," a partner song with "Jingle Bells" arranged by Sally K. Albrecht; and "Fa, La, La, La, La" by J. Paul Williams and Craig Curry. The final Christmas selection is a fun round entitled "Merry Christmas to You All."

Soloists for "Night of Silence" include T.J. Stinnett, Bailey Kasterke and Ansley Elliott.

Patrick Womack, OBU junior percussion major, will join Shawnee Honor Choir playing orchestra bells on "Jingle All the Way" and bongo drums on "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy." Other Shawnee Honor Choir instrumentalists include Joseph Brasher, temple blocks, Lilly Bryant, finger cymbals, Haleigh Collier, maracas, Mikayla Fest, cabasa, and Parker Terrell, triangle.

Orff instrumentalists will perform an arrangement of "Away in a Manger" by Linda Forrest. These students include Harper Morris and Erin Presley, soprano glockenspiels; Joseph Brasher and Graham Griffin, alto glockenspiels; Abby Beeson and Beth Brasher, soprano xylophones; Anna Henson, soprano metallophone; Madison Auld, alto metallophone; Kayli Foran and Jacob Iven, alto xylophones; Rachel Argo, bass xylophone; Bailey Kasterke, bass metallophone; Brenna Grein and Mara Katcher, bass bars.

Introductions to the songs will be presented by Caleb Frank, Michaela Ramsey, Acacia Collins, Stevany Saxon, Dylan Carver, Kaeley Mastin, Johnathon Richardson and Chadrick Gilmore.

At the end of the program, there will be an audience sing-a-long of Christmas carols. Hand chime performers include Kourtney Alameda, Chloe Anderson, Dylan Carver, Haleigh Collier, Acacia Collins, Mikayla Fest, Sabrina Fowler, Caleb Frank, Beth Graves, Chadrick Gilmore, Julieann Gilmore, Matthew Harris, Summer Kanady, Ashley Kasterke, Logan Jennings, Kaeley Mastin, Cassandra Misa, Holly Naylor, Kaylan Posey, Johnathon Richardson, Kimberly Ross, Stevany Saxon, T.J. Stinnett, Parker Terrell, Shane Turner, Peyton Wilson, Emily Yoakum and Lauren Yoakum.

Schools represented in Shawnee Honor Choir include Bethel Middle School, Cross Timbers in Tecumseh, Dale Middle School, Family of Faith, Grove, Home School, Jefferson, Konawa Middle School, Liberty Academy, McComb Elementary, McLoud Intermediate, New Lima Elementary, North Rock Creek, Park Road Elementary in Chandler, Prague Elementary, Seminole Northwood, Sequoyah, Shawnee Middle School, South Rock Creek, Tecumseh Middle School, Veritas Classical Academy in Oklahoma City, and Will Rogers Elementary.

College student assistants with Shawnee Honor Choir include Meghan Loyd and Elizabeth Polston, sophomore music education majors. They provide valuable assistance with sectionals and instrumental rehearsals on a regular basis.

The choir is dedicated to the philosophy that through the learning and performance of excellent choral literature, the lives of the choir members, as well as the lives of their families and the community, will be enriched both musically and artistically. The choir provides a special learning environment designed to provide a rich and rewarding musical experience for each child. Choir members study and perform a variety of music from simple unison songs to more challenging choral literature. Concepts about music (melody, rhythm, harmony, form and expression) and musical skills (singing, music reading, etc.) are taught systematically throughout the rehearsals. Singing is the major focus of musical experience in Shawnee Honor Choir. The children are taught the use of the vocal instrument through exercise, posture, breath and tone production. The goal is that the experience of artistic singing will form the foundation of a lifelong relationship with music for the singers and their families.

Conchita Hansford, OBU assistant professor of music, has taught music education at all levels including Kindermusik for babies and their mothers and other Kindermusik classes for children through age 6. During her 27-year teaching career, she has taught a variety of university courses including early childhood and elementary music methods, church music methods, class piano, voice and private piano. Active as a guest conductor and workshop leader, she has presented numerous workshops in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. She also directs the Young Musician's Choir at First Baptist Church, Shawnee.