The Zumbro Education District mass choir performs the premier composition "To Music" at the ZED Choral Festival on Oct. 29.
By Ruth Hanson
Almost 500 teenagers from the seven Zumbro Education District high schools sang their hearts out at the 25th anniversary of the ZED Choral Festival on October 29.
"Awesome," one grandmother said. "Absolutely beautiful."
"This may be the one time in these kids' lives that they sing in a world premier," Daniel Kallman, the guest composer of "To Music," said.
"It was the highlight for us," Craig Anderson, choir director at Triton High School, said. "To sing the world premier with the composer there was a marvelous experience for the kids. The last time I sang in a world premier was in my college days at Bethel in 1981."
He added that singing in front of such a large audience was an impressive experience for the singers.
"We have a lot of young kids in our choir, but they rose to the occasion," he said. "How exciting to have such a large audience to sing for."
Susan Braun, the Byron High School choir director had been helping to plan the 25th anniversary program for over a year. The directors had wanted to find a Minnesota composer to write a piece for them.
"The logistics of having the concert in the gym really worked pretty well," she said. "I was pleased with it overall. I liked the wide variety of the selections. It was pretty cool to see the mixture of colors when the massed choir members were all sitting or standing together on the bleachers. It was a celebration of our 25 years."
She was especially pleased that Kallman came to an entire rehearsal.
"I look forward to our next ZEDfest," she said. "We will continue to make great music together. It is a great experience for both students and directors."
The selections included Byron's "African Welcome Song," complete with drums, and "A Wonderful Day Like Today," which Braun said expressed her feelings about the performance.
The Triton Choir sang the moving "Then Will the Very Rocks Cry Out" and "River in Judea."
Hayfield's choir sang "Come to Me, O My Love" and the perennial favorite, "Seasons of Love."
The Blooming Prairie choir sang "Every Night When the Sun Goes In" and the lovely "Give Us Hope."
The Pine island Choir sang "Reap Where You Sow" with a beautiful alto solo by Laura Torgeson, and "Festival Sanctus."
The Kasson-Mantorville Choir sang "The Blessing" and "Psalm 150," both very well done.
The Stewartville Choir sang a charming version of "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" and concluded the individual choir selections with another African piece, including a very nice solo by Nathan Lange, "Baba Yetu."
The Pine Island Symphony Orchestra played "An Die Musik" and "Prelude and Fugue from Concerto Grosso in a minor," both arranged by Joseph Mish, the director.
Then, after the audience turned their chairs around to face the massed choir, the teenagers sang "Gypsy Life" as a group; the boys sang a poignant "Tell My Father;" the girls sang the beloved "My Favorite Things" and the entire group sang the world premier of "To Music," which ended,
"That opens to me the heaven of better times. For these, oh lovely art, I thank you."
Daniel Kallman received his musical training at Austin (MN) Central High School, Luther College, and the University of Minnesota under Dominick Argento and Paul Fetler. All of Kallman's works are catalogued on his website at www.kallmancreates.com.
He has composed for the National Symphony Orchestra, the Air Force Academy Band, the Hong Kong Children's Choir, the Minnesota Orchestra, A Prairie Home Companion and a wide variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles. He has received support from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, the McKnight and Jerome Foundations.
"Thank you to the student musicians for the hours you set aside to prepare the music in order to share it with us, and thank you to the parents, grandparents and family friends of the musicians for providing a supportive audience with which to share the music! Thank you to the Zumbro Education District for this opportunity to create a new work in collaboration with all the choral departments of the seven schools represented here today, as well as the strings orchestra of Pine Island High School. I appreciate the efforts of all of these musicians and their conductors, and we are excited to bring it to life for you for the first time tonight."