Vocal Music Department to take on the Big Apple

Hornell High School students will be taking the stage in New York City to showcase their vocal talents and compete for honors among other student choral groups.

In preparation for the 2023 WorldStrides Onstage competition, the Hornell High School Vocal Music Department is inviting the community to an hour long open rehearsal at St. Ann Church located at 35 Erie Ave. in Hornell on Wed. March 22. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the performance starting at 6 p.m.

“Please come out to show support for these young musicians and take in some spectacular performances of both traditional and contemporary choral masterworks,” Chris van Leeuwen the Vocal Music Program director said. “Each year, these competitions provide students opportunities for new experiences and to expand their horizons.”

The 88 students will be in New York City from March 23 through March 26 for their annual Spring Choir Competition. They will be showcasing their talents by performing at Riverside Church located in Manhattan. Each ensemble will have 15-minutes on stage with a panel of three adjudicators judging their performance.

While Hornell’s four ensembles will compete in the competition’s smallest division, all ensembles are rated and ranked regardless of school size when considered for “Best Choral Program” honors and “Best Individual Ensemble” awards.

The ensembles are judged on multiple categories including tone, interpretation, balance, blend, rhythm and music. The adjudicators’ scores determine what level each school is awarded as well as determining the final rankings of each ensemble. The highest level ensembles can achieve is gold with a total score of 85-100.

Despite being in the smallest division, Hornell has brought home top honors numerous times when competing against schools that graduate over 700 students a year. Over the last 15 years, HHS choirs have received more than 40 Gold Ratings at competitions.

While in NYC, the students will walk through Central Park, Times Square, visit the 9/11 Memorial, watch the Broadway show Wicked and take a dinner cruise on the Hudson River.

“This program will always mean the absolute most to me, it’s my home away from home.” senior McKenna Donlon, Vocal Music Program Chief of Staff said. “I could never thank Mr. van Leeuwen enough for creating this family, because that’s what we are, a family. We rise and fall together and we always have each other’s backs.”