by CINDY M. CRANMER
A crowd started gathering Monday night, July 9 in downtown Rockford to hear an impromptu performance by the Rockford Aces. This is not unusual as the group returned from Cincinnati as the top finishing team in their category in points in the United States and third in the world.
The team returned from the World Choir Games on Sunday, July 8. The seventh World Choir Games (WCG), which takes place every two years, was in the United States for the first time this year. Choirs from all over the world participated in the events that began July 4 and continue through Saturday, July 14.
More than 15,000 participants from 64 nations including 362 choirs registered to compete in the biggest international choral competition in the world known as “the Olympics of choral music.”
“This was just incredible. It was a music lover’s dream,” said Connor Jewell, who graduated after three years in the Rockford Aces.
The goal of the WCG is to unite people from all nations through singing in peaceful competition. Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to hear the performances in the 23 different categories and two divisions: champion and non-champion.
The Rockford Aces is an all-male choir consisting of 12 Rockford High School students from freshman to seniors. They performed in the champion category due to their successes at state competitions. The Rockford A Capella Extracurricular Singers (ACES) are led by Jed Scott, a composer and arranger.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group,” said Jed Scott, husband of Rockford High School choir teacher, Mandy Scott. “Every challenge I threw at them they met it with a resounding yes.”
The group was formed when the Scotts moved to Rockford in 2008.
The two categories the group performed in at WCG were Young Male Choirs, which is a classical category for ages 25 and under, and Popular Choral Music, which was open to all ages.
Groups received medals on a point system. Earning 80 to 100 points meant someone could get a gold medal, 60 to 80 points earned a silver, and 40 to 60 points earned a bronze.
The Rockford Aces was the highest silver medalist in the Young Male Choirs category with two other groups, both from Hong Kong, finishing above them with gold medals. Their score of 77.88 points placed them as top U.S. finisher in the category and third in the world.
“We are technically the number one best Young Male Classical Choir in the United States. This is a title we will take great pride in,” said Matt Vermeer, a graduating senior.
“They performed as brilliantly as I could have asked them to,” Scott said. “They had such a musical maturity.”
The group earned almost 70 points in the Popular Choral Music category, which earned a silver medal and a seventh-place finish out of more than 35 groups in one of the larger performance categories at the WCG.
“To me, it really was a life-changing experience,” Scott said. This was a segment echoed by the 12 performers Monday.
“It was just amazing, an absolutely wonderful experience,” said Jeff Millard, a graduating senior. “We got to be around people who were from all over the world, who share a love of singing, with chances to perform and compete for something we love. This is what we were working for. Jed Scott is an amazing director and an amazing person.”
“It started with us. It’s amazing we’re here four years later. This has really helped me figure out who I am today,” said Tyler Quick, a graduating senior who started when the group formed. Like many of the eight students who are moving on, he plans to be involved in a choir if possible.
The group gathered after a performance at the Rockford Board of Education meeting Monday, July 9 to get ice cream and present Scott with a large, homemade card featuring WCG photos for his dedication to the group.
The event turned into speeches and praises for Scott and the group, as well as stories from the WCG and a performance. One of the three songs performed Monday, Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” was sung as part of their Popular Choral Music performance.
Four of the eight songs performed in competition were composed by Scott and sung in the Young Male Choir category. The Popular Choral Music category featured “Lullaby” by Josh Groban and Dave Matthews, “21 Guns” by Green Day, “Runaway Baby” and “Theme Song” by a Chicago-based band.
The group will meet throughout the summer doing a performance at the Michigan House of Representatives on July 18, a “Take Five” television performance Friday and putting together a second CD, which includes songs performed at WCG.
The first CD, “Unaccompanied Minors,” already is released. For more information on the Rockford Aces, visit www.RockfordAcesblogspot.com. For more information on WCG or other categories, visit www.worldchoirgames.com.