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Shawnee Honor Choir Concert to Feature 44 Area Children

April 23, 2012

Under the direction of Conchita Hansford, Shawnee Honor Choir is an auditioned choir of 44 third through seventh graders representing 16 schools in Shawnee and the surrounding area. The choir is a part of the Young Singers of Central Oklahoma, the preparatory choirs of OBU. Hansford serves as director of OBU's Music Preparatory Department and assistant professor of music. Dephanie Lilite serves as accompanist.

Shawnee Honor Choir performs in 12 schools annually, presents four formal public concerts each year and frequently performs at community events. The choir has performed five times at the Oklahoma Music Educators Association Convention in Tulsa.

On Tuesday, April 24, the choir will perform in Shawnee at Grove School, North Rock Creek School, and Sterling House, an assisted living facility. They also will perform at McLoud Elementary School. On Friday, April 27, they will perform at Cross Timbers Elementary School in Tecumseh, and Sequoyah Elementary School and Will Rogers Elementary School, both in Shawnee.

The Shawnee Honor Choir concert will open with "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" by Sally K. Albrecht and then perform "The Wind" by Ruth Elaine Schram. Other selections include "Sarasponda," a Dutch spinning song, arranged by Ruth Boshkoff and "Kookaburra," an Australian folk song, arranged by Carolee Curtright. The concert will include "Can You Hear Me?" composed by Bob Chilcott, a piece challenging listeneners to be aware of people who live in a silent world and can only hear through sign language and the loving surroundings which they experience. Rose Anderson will sign as the choir sings "Can You Hear Me?" The final selection is "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," a traditional spiritual arranged by Brad Printz.

Orff instrumentalists will perform "Canon" by Carl Orff and arranged by Dr. James Vernon, OBU professor of music. These students include Evie Griffin, Lillie Fuller, Abigail Lilite and Catherine Burgess, soprano glockenspiels; Mikayla Fest, alto glockenspiel; Kaylan Posey, soprano xylophone; Leah Schwab, soprano metallophone; Allison Mayfield and Noah Youmans, alto xylophones; Parker Terrell, bass xylophone; Josh Wester, bass metallophone, Ashley Smith, bass bars; Juliana Cannon, hand drums; and Kate Barrett, triangle.

Introductions to the choral works will be presented by Olivia Vanbebber, A.J. Higgins, Megan Prater, Lauren Yoakum, Jaden Jesseph, Andrew Terell and Devon Crawley.

At the end of the program, the audience will be invited to participate in a sing-a-long of patriotic songs. Hand chime performers include Rose Anderson, Alyssa Baughman, Hannah Baughman, Skyla Cornett, Mikayla Fest, Kali Giddens, Evie Griffin, Kyla Hanigar, Megan Hardwick, Makayla Hazlett, Abigail Mahaffey, Megan Prater, Hannah Starinieri, Andrew Terrell, Olivia Vanbebber, Sydney Vanbebber, Emily Yoakum and Lauren Yoakum.

Schools represented in Shawnee Honor Choir include Bethel Elementary, Grove School, home school, Liberty Academy, Meeker Elementary, McLoud Elementary, New Lima Schools, North Rock Creek School, Prague Elementary, Prague Middle School, Seminole North Wood, Sequoyah Elementary, Shawnee Middle School, South Rock Creek School, Strother Middle School and Will Rogers Elementary.

College students who assist with Shawnee Honor Choir include Brittni Bilyeu and Haylee Dowler, sophomore vocal music education majors. Sectional accompanist is Sadie Elliott. The OBU students provide valuable assistance with sectional rehearsals on a regular basis, Hansford said. Honor choir mom is Kim Fest.

Interested children may audition for Shawnee Honor Choir (third through seventh graders), Discovery Singers (first through third graders) or Concert Singers (eighth through 12th graders) on Tuesday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 8, from 3-5 p.m. in Raley Chapel, room 141, on the OBU campus. Returning Shawnee Honor Choir students may re-audition on April 24 or May 1. Each student will be asked to sing "Happy Birthday."

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. The children 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, a powerfully personal means of musical expression, 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.

Hansford 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 30-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 in Shawnee. Hansford earned degrees from Mississippi University for Women and Wayland Baptist University. She is Orff certified and has done additional graduate study in music at Texas Tech University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Colorado at Greeley. She is a licensed Kindermusik educator.

Dephanie Lilite has concertized extensively in London, Haiti and the United States as a versatile pianist whose brilliance shines as a soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician. A southern California native, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in piano performance from the Conservatory of Music at Biola University and a master's degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Pennsylvania State University. This is her third year to serve as accompanist of Shawnee Honor Choir.

For more information about OBU's Music Preparatory Department, visit the Prep Department webpage, call (405) 585-4329 or email