Arts & Entertainment

Excellence of RHS vocal music program exhibited

January 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL From purely a state-level prestige perspective the honor bestowed upon the Rockford High School’s (RHS) Women’s Chorus last Friday afternoon was perhaps greater than what might be garnered by the football team winning, yet another, state high school football championship. Echoing a sentiment heard over and over again, Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) President-Elect Doug Armstead said, “This is a really, really big deal.” Amstead was speaking about RHS Women’s Chorus being only one of five chorus’ selected to perform at the 2012 Michigan Music Conference (MMC) held in Grand Rapids last Thursday – Saturday. “When one takes into consideration that only five high school chorus’ were chosen from 600 high schools across the entire state of Michigan the honor to appear takes on a very special meaning,” said Armstead. Just prior to the start of the RHS Women’s Chorus program, it was announced that RHS Vocal Music Educator and Women’s Chorus Director Mandy Makita Scott, herself, was to be further honored. We learned Scott had been awarded the Carolyn F. Leep Scholarship by MSVMA and had been chosen by her peers, in a statewide ballot, to be the 2014 State Honors Choir Conductor. She will rehearse and conduct a 100+ voice elite high school women’s chorus at the MMC conference in January 2014. This is widely considered one of the highest honors that a high school conductor in Michigan can receive. High honors indeed for this Rockford resident. Performing in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott, before a standing room only audience upwards of 700, the Women’s Chorus then opened a flawless 5-selection program. At times Conference Pianist Dr. Kenneth Bos, Grand Rapids Symphony Principal Cellist Alicia Eppinga, and RHS student Percussionists Aaron Bainbidge, Spencer Gordon, Tylor Hoekstra, Jason Ibarra, and Zach Kidder, accompanied the Chorus. Your reporters hearts swelled with “Rockford Pride” as the talented young women of the Chorus closed the afternoon’s performance with their beautiful rendition of Michigan Composer Jeffrey Cobb’s We are the Music Makers. You really should have been there and enjoyed, along with us, the rousing applause of everyone in attendance that afternoon.

2012 REF Benefit Concert scores twice the laughs

January 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The Second City National Laugh Out Loud Touring Group returned to Rockford last Friday and Saturday night after a two-year absence. Squire readers will recall their single sold-out Rockford Education Foundation (REF) benefit performance in January 2010. Two is better than one, right? And that’s just what the REF ended up with, a win-win with two sold-out performances that will provide resources for the REF to continue providing educational opportunities for people of all ages in the Rockford community. Chicago’s legendary improvisational theater group provided two evenings of hilarious and cutting edge sketches, songs, and improvisations to the delight of everyone present both nights. No topic of subject matter was off limits and an early sketch found two cast members seated in a doctor’s office. The doctor entered saying, “The last time you were in my office I found a lump in your breast.” There was an uncomfortable moment of strained silence as the couple absorbed the news. Abruptly the husband broke the silence saying, “But Doctor, you’re a dentist!” The lights then faded to hilarious laughter and thus began an evening of Second City’s trademark humor. There was also a third winner both evenings, that being RPS Freshman Center Technology Technician Chris Schneider. Schneider had been judged The Funniest Person in Rockford in a contest put on by the REF that took place in front of a sold-out crowd at the Corner Bar on January 12. As the winner, Chris was given the opportunity to perform with the Second City Comedy Troupe. Schneider appeared at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium in both evening’s encore sketches with the entire 5-member Second City ensemble. Schneider’s comedic talent was barely scratched in one sketch called “Dr. Know-it-all”, where he linked arms with four troupe members while the fifth fielded questions for “Dr. Know-it-all” from the audience. “Dr. Know-it-all” had five heads so he must have been five times as smart. Each head was allowed to utter only one word at a time as they answered the audience queries. It was improv at its finest as each of the heads had to add a word, almost instantly, to construct a coherent sentence that resulted in a laughable answer. There was no […]

Inaugural Ice Festival Ball was a ball

January 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

“Let the Magic Begin” was the theme for the 2012 Ice Festival, and begin it did on Friday night with the first ever Ice Festival Ball. The Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) hosted the event at Blythefield Country Club (BCC). Ninety people gathered for a delicious three-course meal by the BCC culinary artists. After dinner, guests were treated to the musical talents of Blue Star Pilot, a band of four top-shelf musicians, two of whom are Rockford graduates. The wizardry of Russ Niedzwiecki got the magic flowing. He teamed up with ice guru Randy Finch to perform a trick that had jaws dropping. A giant deck of cards was frozen in the ice. Niedzwiecki had the crowd help select a card and, sure enough, that was the card facing the wrong way in the frozen deck. He continued to amaze guests throughout the evening, going table to table, making cards appear, disappear, change colors—all to the common refrain of “How did he do that?” And the treats kept coming. While the band took a break, the audience was once again astounded at the talent the Rockford community has to offer. Under the direction of Rockford grad Rachel Siegel, a dance troupe from Western Michigan University delighted guests with its fresh choreography and style. A silent auction of art, set up by art teacher Barb Kent from the Rockford High School art department, was available for guests to bid on during the evening. All proceeds from the silent auction were returned to the art department to support their efforts. Throughout it all, people danced, dined, laughed, talked and were generally transformed, in part, by the indoor winter wonderland created through the decorating talents of Kathy Levin. “We were very pleased with the way things turned out,” said the planning committee from RAAC. “Many thanks to our sponsors and our wonderful Rockford community for making this a special evening!” Sponsors for the event included Blythefield Country Club, the Wolverine World Wide YMCA, who made babysitting available, the Alpine Meijer Store, Blakeslee Rop PLC and Fluis Inc. Guest Janell VanDine summed it all up by saying, “I can’t wait for next year!” To catch a glimpse of what you missed, visit or find the Rockford Area Arts […]

Magic of ice festival this weekend in Rockford

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

World-record sundae contest Saturday As the New Year unfolds, picturesque downtown Rockford, Michigan will be transformed into a vision of ice, offering winter wonderland fun for folks of all ages and stages. Just imagine, a gigantic ice cream sundae ice bar serving up tasty treats while competing for a world record; chain saw wielding carvers transforming huge blocks of ice into amazing sculptures; miniature ice golf; interactive ice games; a scavenger hunt throughout the town to locate dozens of sculptures; snow wall art; music and entertainment; hot cocoa and contests; voting for best of show; a throwback Ice Festival Ball dinner dance; bustling shops offering festival fare and fun and thousands of guests discovering the City’s charm and enchantment. Ice Carving Demonstrations – Ice carving demonstrations take place from noon to 4 p.m. at Red’s On the River Outdoor Deck; from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at The Corner Bar and at Herman’s Boy from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Special thanks to Randy Finch and the talented team at Ice Sculptures Ltd for designing and creating the spectacular ice sculptures and interactive ice games.  Randy’s team is internationally known for their amazing work, and they star on the Food Network’s Ice Brigade series. The third annual Rockford Ice Festival promises to be bigger and better than last year—which is not an easy act to follow. Last year’s festival drew nearly 10,000 and was featured on the Food Network’s Ice Brigade series. The festival takes place Friday Sunday, January 13 through 15. The world record ice cream sundae contest takes place Saturday, from noon to 2 p.m. in front of the downtown Welcome Center (near the doors of Great Northern Trading Company). Students from the Culinary Institute of Michigan will help prepare and serve the complimentary sundaes, which will extend 250 feet. Don’t forget, the sculptures stay put until Mother Nature does them in, so stop back often to enjoy this winter wonderland art.    

RHS Women’s Chorus finds their voice, challenges others to do the same

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

We are the music makers, the dreamers of dreams by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL along with JED SCOTT  The honors never cease for Rockford High School (RHS); you could hear the pride in her voice when Mandy Makita Scott told us, “The RHS Women’s Chorus has been selected to perform at the 7th annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC).” Rockford resident Mandy Scott is the director of the Women’s Chorus at RHS. Scott is in her fourth year of teaching at RHS, where she directs two sections of the Freshman Choir and the 68-voice sophomore Women’s Chorus. Scott holds a Bachelor of Music Education from WMU and a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Miami (FL). She currently serves on the Full Board of the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) as the Supervisor of High School Music Selection. The Women’s Chorus is a non-auditioned intermediate choir made up almost entirely of sophomore women. The ensemble is noted for its diverse repertoire and cohesiveness as an ensemble. The choral group has consistently earned Superior and Excellent ratings at district and state choral festivals. Held annually, the MMC draws 2,000+ attendees to their 3-day conferences – not including exhibitors, speakers, performers, parents, along with staff and volunteers. This year the conference will be held Thursday, January 19 – Saturday, January 21 at DeVos Place and Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chosen by a juried panel of vocal music educators, representing the MSVMA, the RHS Women’s Chorus is one of six choral groups (five high schools and one middle school) to be honored to perform at this year’s Conference. Honored indeed. “This is a really, really big deal to be singing at the MMC,” said RHS Director of Choral Activities David Duiven, seconded by Mandy Scott and echoed by Michigan Composer Jeffrey Cobb. “We will be giving music educators a taste of what you can do with a non-auditioned sophomore level choral group,” added Scott Jeffrey Cobb, is a highly degreed music educator and a much sought after composer of commissioned music. His pieces have garnered several national awards and honors. College ensembles, community groups, and public school students throughout the United States and around the world regularly perform his works for choir, […]

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