My daughter Teeghan made an excellent point: Bad news lingers unless we replace it with good news.
A sophomore at Enloe Magnet High School, she’s been trying to get me to respond since her last school year ended with a water balloon prank that led to arrests and, she fears, a proverbial black eye for the school that she chose for its reputation for stellar academic and arts programs. She said something again when this school year started with news about the school’s broken A/C in temperatures too hot to learn.
Teeghan’s right, so I write.
After dinnertime on Dec. 4, Teeghan and 70 other members of Enloe’s Chorale Chamber Choir will head to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to perform in the Disney Candlelight Processional, a nightly holiday tradition at America Gardens Theater at Epcot.
The Candlelight Processional takes place for 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and features the sounds of a full orchestra and choir as a notable guest narrator takes the stage as storyteller of the biblical tale of the savior’s birth in Bethlehem.
Enloe’s narrator for their Dec. 8 performance of sacred songs and carols: Whoopi Goldberg.
“It’s thrilling,” said Ann L. Huff, director of Enloe’s Choral Music Department. “It’s great for them to be able to work with another artist, a professional who is actually out there in the professional world of arts.
“Whoopi Goldberg has given a lot to us through the arts, but also through her humanity,” Huff added. “It will be a great experience for the kids to work with her. I hope she feels the same way about us.”
Henry Dean, an Enloe junior in the Chamber Choir’s bass section, is ready to experience Disney and singing in the Candlelight Processional. That he’ll be on stage with Whoopi Goldberg, well ...
“How do I put it into words?” he said, “I’m a little nervous, but really excited.”
This is not a mere toss-a-name-in-the-hat honor for the Chamber Choir.
I remember the excited angst of the audition flowing through Teeghan, a Chamber Choir newbie. Soon after school started, Huff began directing the Honors choir’s audition, which included a video recording of three songs. From last year’s concert there was the Advanced Women’s Ensemble singing “There is Sweet Music Here,” and the Chamber Choir singing its rendition of “Les Miserables” and Disney’s arrangement of “Joy to the World.”
“We got the notice pretty quickly that we had been invited to participate,” Huff said, crediting video and music production work to Mark Manring and Chamber Choir student Kayla Joncich, who studies film and production.
Although this is Enloe’s first foray into Disney’s Candlelight Processional, it’s not the first time that Enloe choral music has been in the big leagues under Huff’s direction. Enloe choirs sang at Carnegie Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City. They’ve also toured Spain with a Moscow orchestra and performed in London and France.
In next month’s Candlelight Processional, the Enloe Chamber Choir will sing 15 songs – and they’re working hard with daily, in-class rehearsals. For the past month, they’ve been practicing after school, too.
“It’s going to be fun, but it has been a lot of hard work, which is very healthy for the kids,” Huff said.
There’s a lot of music, most of which requires Disney-esque bravura, Huff said.
“What’s really important to me is that they build a good work ethic and that they work together as a community,” she said. “As a team, our music ensemble is only as strong as the community is strong.
“When kids work together in groups like this they have to be strong individuals for the good of the whole,” she added. “Music impacts humanity in that way.”
Students get it – and want to be sure we do, too.
“Mrs. Huff focuses on our technique and musicianship a lot and, through that we become a tight-knit group,” said senior Morgan McNeil, an alto. “It feels really special when we’re all creating music together.”
Even more special is an opportunity to share.
“It’s a really great opportunity we’re getting to do this,” said Enloe senior Alan Osuna, a Chamber Choir tenor vying to attend UNC School of the Arts. “Enloe has a history of doing very prestigious things and getting a lot of credit for the choral program, so this is a good opportunity to keep that reputation us and keep the legacy going.
“I agree with Teeghan: It’s good to remind the community that we have a lot of good going for us in the arts program, and academically, as well.”