EHS singers make noise at San Diego Music Festival

The EHS Chorale and director Heather Blackwell pose with their awards received at the San Diego Heritage Music Festival. The Chorale was awarded a Silver Rating and the Spirit of San Diego Award for citizenship, sportsmanship and positive attitudes. (COURTESY PHOTO)

EVANSTON — The Evanston High School Chorale traveled to San Diego March 28-31, to perform at the San Diego Heritage Music Festival, where the group was awarded a Silver Rating for class 2A concert choir.

EHS Vocal Music Director Heather Blackwell said the trip provided students with an opportunity to perform at a quality festival on a national level, performing with schools from all over the western United States. “Our students performed at the same level as many of the large California schools,” said Blackwell, “and I am proud of how our EHS students represented themselves.”

In addition to the Silver Rating, the EHS Chorale was the recipient of the prestigious Spirit of San Diego Award, which recognizes one school from all those performing at the festival that demonstrates good citizenship, sportsmanship and positive attitudes. Blackwell said staff were impressed by how the Evanston students presented themselves both on and off-stage. 

Four Evanston students were honored with the Maestro Award for outstanding solo performances with the Chorale, including Marquel Hawkins, Aidan McGuire, Linzy Sharp and Gracie Walk. The four were featured soloists on “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin,” an African-American spiritual selection. 

Students performed three other selections at the festival, including “Ose Shalom” from the traditional Hebrew, a traditional camp meeting song entitled “No Time,” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.” 

Blackwell said there are Heritage Music Festivals held in various locations around the country, including Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. She chose to visit San Diego to give the students a cost-effective opportunity to perform at the national level. 

“I wanted to challenge our students with a higher-level performance opportunity and bring renewed energy to the vocal music program at EHS. Our vocal jazz choirs have performed at high-level jazz festivals for years, and now our advanced concert choir students benefited from a similar experience,” said Blackwell. 

In addition to performing, the group was also able to visit many area attractions, including Sea World, the USS Midway, Old Town, Seaport Village, Belmont Park and Balboa Park. Students raised funds for the trip through multiple different fundraisers held since the beginning of the school year. 

In addition to recognized soloists Hawkins, McGuire, Sharp and Walk, other members of the EHS Chorale are Anamaria Aponte-Malpica, Jonathan Baxter, Gage Beachler, McKye Carver, Alexis Chandler, Rosa Echevarria, Shyann Gottfried, Casedi Jensen, Sky Jensen, Lily Johnson, Sophie Kallas, Araka Lebaron, Skyler LeMarr, Kirsten Maisey, Karen Medrano Mora, Riley Ovard, Madison Sepos, Cloie Shupe, George Stephen and Monica Voss. 

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