Students Represent Wesleyan in N.C. Elementary Honors Chorus
WCA ELEMENTARY MUSIC TEACHER SAYS WEEKEND WAS “A DREAM COME TRUE!”
Ms. Sarah Gray, who is Wesleyan’s Elementary music teacher, was named the Co-Chair of the 2022 North Carolina Elementary Honors Chorus in January of this year. Professionally, her selection was a great honor and speaks to Ms. Gray’s expertise and extensive service to the North Carolina music community and the NC Music Educators Association. Personally, it was a full circle moment. As a middle school student, Ms. Gray had participated in the NC Honors Chorus, which she remembers as “some of the best weekends of my life.”
The NC Elementary Honors Chorus, is a program organized by the NC Music Educators Association. Each year, approximately 200 students from schools throughout North Carolina are selected from hundreds more, to participate. Those students then spend about a month preparing individually to perform during the NC Music Educators Conference in Winston-Salem in November. The entire chorus then practices together for the first time on Saturday of the conference and presents a concert at the Stevens Center on Sunday under the direction of an often internationally recognized conductor.
Knowing the incredible opportunity that lay before her students, Ms. Gray went to work in August. “Through this experience, I wanted the chance to expose our students to professional musicianship and the collaboration singing can bring.” Not long after school began this year, she approached six Wesleyan fourth and fifth grade music students—the maximum permitted to participate—and encouraged them to audition for the Chorus.
After discussing it with their parents, all six students made the decision to try out. That decision put into motion a rigorous month of practices with Ms. Gray to prepare for auditions. At the end of the month, Ms. Gray recorded an audition of each student and forwarded it on to the association to be reviewed anonymously. Understanding the rigor of the auditions, Ms. Gray cautiously warned the students that not everyone may be selected.
While Wesleyan has had other students invited to participate in the Chorus, she couldn’t have imagined that all six of her 4th and 5th grade students would be invited to participate in the 2022 NC Elementary Honors Chorus. But that is exactly what happened! On October 4, Ms. Gray gathered the group to share the good news!
On November 6, (above photo, left to right) Ben Giordano (5th), Ella Garrison (4th), Avery Fowler (5th), Alexa McCandless (5th), Eva Lambeth (4th), and Ryleigh Woodard (5th), performed with the 192-member North Carolina Elementary Honors Chorus under the direction of Dr. Lynnel Joy Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins is a choral music educator of international stature, lecturing and conducting worldwide. She is the Artistic Director of Westrick Music Academy and Choral Educator in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District in New Jersey. At Westrick Music Academy, she conducts the following touring groups: Princeton Girl Choir Ensemble and Concert Choir.
Ms. Gray added, “It was truly a full-circle moment from my 8th grade year when I ran out of Middle School Honors Chorus to tell my teacher ‘I want to do this everyday for the rest of my life!'”
After her experience this weekend, fifth grader Ryleigh Woodard shared Ms. Gray’s sentiment that she too would “like to be a music teacher one day.” Ben Giordano, also a fifth grader, said that singing with the 192-member chorus was “…awesome. Even when you sing in harmony, you are able to hear multiple notes … I think this is a great life skill that I can enjoy for a long time.” Ms. Gray added, “Our students were able to make connections with students from different school situations, gain confidence in their voices and learn from an excellent internationally known clinician. ” She concluded, “God is so good. What a dream come true!”
We are thankful for Ms. Gray’s perseverance and hard work, as well as our students! And we are blessed by the beautiful manner in which they represented Wesleyan Christian Academy.