By Millie Sandelius
“Many Voices” was the theme of the spring Vocal Music concert held Tuesday, May 22, and many voices were raised in joy as the eighth grade choir, under the direction of Laurie Elliott, and the High school Concert choir and Varsity Voices choir under the direction of Linda Martino, performed their final concert of the school year.
Covering a wide spectrum of music from jazz, pop, movie tunes, spirituals and beyond, the young voices had the audience spellbound. Soloists were many and talented, and the smooth and effortless flow of the musical selections reflected the work and commitment by both the directors and the choir members.
The Concert Choir women’s group, along with selections chosen for the concert, shared their state choir festival songs. This choir received a “Superior” rating for their state choir festival performance, of which only 10 percent of all choirs in the state receive.
Varsity Voices is the mixed group, men and women, and they received an “Excellent” Rating for their state choir festival performance, which is an extremely high rating also. Varsity Voices sang some traditional and pop songs, plus their state festival songs at the concert.
This is the first year that both high school choirs from Cedar Springs scored high enough in their District Choir Festival to also attend the State Choir Festival.
The talented eighth grade choir performed four songs, and showed that they are ready and able to maintain the high vocal reputation that Cedar Springs enjoys in the state.
As a final number, all the choirs returned to the stage for a stirring rendition of “Peace Like a River, Kum Ba Yah.”
And then, at Mrs. Elliott’s cue, former students of Mrs. Martino’s choirs, plus a few teachers, surged to the stage to create a 130-plus-member choir, filling the risers and stage. Past and present choir members had rehearsed a special song, one to two Saturdays a month beginning in January, with middle school choir director Laurie Elliott, while the eighth grade choir worked on the song during class.
This was all done in secret, in order to surprise Linda Martino at the May 22nd concert. Mrs. Martino is retiring after giving 27 years of her 40-year teaching career to the students of Cedar Springs. Alumni that sang solos in this song were Chris Burman, Rich Tolar, Trisha Mullenix-Dart, and Katrina Nelson.
The combined choirs raised their voices in a song called “For Good,”, from the musical “Wicked.” The words of the song expressed thanks to Mrs. Martino for instilling a love and understanding of music and song, which will last their lifetimes. Many students and audience members had tears in their eyes as the truly fitting tribute to Mrs. Martino was given in joy and thankfulness.