Lighting event kicks off with holiday traditions Villagers by the hundreds walked to the banks of the Rogue River at Peppler Park for the annual ceremony as Rockford turned on the downtown’s holiday lights. A mild evening on Tuesday, Nov. 15 allowed the Rockford High School band and choir members to entertain the crowds with more comfort than on some previous lighting ceremonies. A moving rendition of “Silver Bells” brought the holiday spirit home as well as beautiful traditional songs by the high school singers and musicians. A tradition with the lighting ceremony was a popular crowd favorite as “Fun with Rudolph” invited crowd participation. Radio personality Gene Parker was crestfallen by a letter from Santa declining to attend the evening’s event but instead confirmed his visit on Saturday, Dec. 3 for the annual Santa Parade in downtown Rockford. Current City Council member and former mayor Rich Moll spoke before the crowds of families, couples and kids, and recalled the excitement of his youth of the joys of the holidays and challenged all to “rekindle the joy of the season.” State Representative Peter MacGregor shared his quest as he asked friends and family members their definition of peace. He received a different answer from his wife and each of his children before deciding on his own. “Peace is different for each of us. For me inner peace is knowing my family is not in harm’s way,” MacGregor stated. “A lot of people don’t have that now. We need to think of peace all the time. We need to think of peace all year round. Hug your kids many times a day.”
Rockford High School Choir
The Rockford High School choirs and directors David Duiven and Mandy Mikita Scott are proud to announce the honor of having four choir students named to the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) All State Honors Choir. Senior Julian Mondragon and juniors Emilee Bodien, Jill Nelson and Hannah Schroeder traveled to Western Michigan University May 12-14 to rehearse and perform with some of Michigan’s finest high school vocal talent. The 120 singers in this prestigious choir were chosen from over 5,000 auditions in a two-step audition process. Following three days of intense rehearsal under the baton of Dr. Joe Grant, professor emeritus from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the All State choir gave the final concert of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival with a gala performance in Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium. Michigan Youth Arts Festival is an annual showcase that recognizes, supports and celebrates students throughout Michigan in all artistic disciplines.
Trip a chance to join with other choirs The weekend of May 21-22, RHS choir director David Duiven, his 129-member Rockford High School Touring Choir, two principals and 30 chaperones boarded buses heading for New York City. The trip included many exciting events, such as going to the “Top of the Rock,” seeing the Broadway show “Mary Poppins,” and going on a moonlit Hudson River Cruise to view the magnificent Manhattan skyline, but the main purpose of the trip was to join forces with a few other choirs from high schools and colleges around the country and work with renowned clinician and conductor Z. Randall Stroope. Their 11 hours of work with Stroope culminated with a concert in the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Duiven had his choir well prepared with approximately 20 hours of rehearsal time at home preceding the trip and it showed. Their success in Carnegie Hall is simply another testament to the quality education that Rockford Public Schools provides and to the program that Duiven has built these past 20 years.
by BETH ALTENA Hundreds of people waited on the banks of the Rogue River to hear the Rockford High School brass ensemble and choir and words of peace from local leaders as the City of Rockford officially began the holiday season the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 17. The City/Chamber of Commerce event began with an introduction by Chamber Executive Director Brenda Davis, who said the event was the sixth annual. It appeared from the number of participants that this may well be the most well-attended lighting ceremony to date. Outgoing State Representative Tom Pearce spoke about his experiences as a young man on a Souix Indian reservation and then urged the crowd, “If there is someone you are not getting along with, make a truce with them.” He urged the crowd to “make sure this holiday season you are wrapped up in other people, not wrapped up in things that don’t matter.” Mayor Steve Jazwiec shared his inspiration for the holidays, the true story of WWI foes who, for a few hours on Christmas eve, made a truce themselves and stopped fighting to share a time of peace in honor of the holy day. Senator Mark Jansen urged people to start at home in bringing peace to the world and complimented the town for being good stewards of the assets Rockford is blessed to enjoy—our students who stood by to sing and play in honor of the holiday, the beautiful downtown and the river and trail which brings so much to the community. The words of peace were followed by the music of the brass ensemble and choir—hauntingly beautiful and the most moving portion of the ceremony—and the dimming of the lights until the countdown to the town’s holiday lights coming on for the season. The evening ceremony ended with a playful rendition—repeated a few times for fun and to the delight of youngsters and adults—of the “reindeer song” with participation of the crowd encouraged. After the lighting ceremony, a lively downtown night of shopping was held, with promotions, treats and giveaways in the stores and shops. The downtown Rockford Holiday Open Houses is an annual event that lasts two evenings. However, many holiday specials can be found throughout downtown right on through the season, […]
As far as the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) is concerned, Rockford may just be the top choir program in the State. This year, Rockford High School had three choirs selected as part of the top-14 choirs in Michigan. Each year MSVMA selects the top choirs to perform at a special gala recital as part of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF). Only one other school in Michigan had more than one choir selected. This year’s recital is scheduled for Friday, May 14. Each of the RHS Choir Directors had an ensemble selected: David Duiven’s Chamber Singers, a mixed ensemble made up of all upperclassmen; Mandy Mikita Scott’s Women’s Chorus, an all-sophomore choir accompanied by Peggy Odren; and the extracurricular men’s ensemble, the Rockford Aces, directed by Jed Scott. As Mr. Duiven put it, “this is really the state championship for choirs. Having one choir selected among this group is a great honor. Having three selected is unprecedented!” Indeed, the last time a Rockford choir was selected was in 1993, though last year one choir was nominated. Said Mrs. Scott, “there are so many fine choirs across the State that many of the very best schools don’t even have one choir selected.” The selection is the culmination of a statewide multi-step process that began in January with District Solo & Ensemble Festival. Some 400+ choirs performed at 16 district locations; the highest rated were permitted to continue to State Solo & Ensemble in April. At the State level, they performed two classical pieces and were asked to sight-read a piece to demonstrate their musical skills. Of the 50 ensembles performing at each of the four state sites, six were nominated for MYAF performance. A four-judge panel made up of choral experts then listened “blind” to the 24 nominated recordings and selected the 14 that would perform. According to Ginny Kerwin, Executive Director of MSVMA, “The decisions by the listening panel were difficult because of the high quality of choral artistry displayed by all of the finalists.” The choirs selected for inclusion are typically the top curricular ensembles at each high school represented, like Rockford’s Chamber Singers. The other two choirs from RHS are less typical. As Mrs. Scott puts it, “to have an all-sophomore […]