Manassas Journal Messenger 04-26-01



harmony — Ensemble members make commitment to achieve excellence


Tiffany Schwab



Music class is a mix of melodies and memories in the making for the students

in Stonewall Jackson High School’s vocal ensemble.

The teen-agers made both at April’s North American Music Festival, where

they won four trophies, taking top honors in two categories.

“I thought it was well-deserved,” said Wanda Boley, choral

director, who cried when she heard the announcements.

The students’ harmonies captured the judges’ attention on the French

number “Dirait-on,” “Shall I Compare Thee,” and “The


Competing against nearly 30 groups at the New York City festival, Stonewall

students won “Most Outstanding Choral Ensemble,” first place for

madrigal choir, first place for women’s choir and the sweepstakes prize.

The vocal ensemble is made up of 21 boys and girls, while the chamber

choir is made up of 23 girls – including one from the ensemble.

The singers are in contention for the festival’s MegaFest crystal trophy

award, an honor they won last year.

The award takes into account all performances in the North American Music

Festival, which last through June and includes events in New York, Toronto,

Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Boley said one of the judges, a professor at the prestigious Westminister

Choir College in New Jersey, complimented both the students for their strong

performance and Boley for her fine musical selections.

“I thought to myself, that is one of the greatest compliments another

conductor could pay me,” said Boley, who has taught at Stonewall since


“As a choral director you always hope that you are doing the best

you can possibly do,” Boley said. But, “it makes no difference

how well I want the kids to do, they have to have the desire also.”

Students agree that desire plays a huge role in vocal ensemble, which

is much more than a class to them.

“You really have to love music to be in this class,” said senior

Lyndsay Curtis.

Jessi Reighard, a junior, said music wasn’t a big part of her life, until

she joined the vocal ensemble. Now she is thinking of majoring in singing

or music business in college.

“I never really had much of a love for [music] before, but one you

come to Stonewall … it’s like a family,” Jessi said.

Students don’t confine their singing to the ensemble. There’s a few in

church choirs and rock bands, several participate in school plays, and there’s

always karaoke.

But commitment to the ensemble is required, and students have to schedule

their afterschool activities accordingly.

“If you want to be in, you have to take the commitment to take off

work,” said senior Alise Oakes, who works five days a week, except

on weeks with concert nights.

Love of singing is just half of it, though. The ensemble carries with

it a sense of prestige, students said.

In addition to competitions and concerts, students perform for local

civic groups and churches, and sometimes for younger students.

Junior Niki Chandler remembers listening to the vocal ensemble when she

was a middle-schooler.

“It was the most amazing sound,” Niki said. “I would get

shivers all over.”

She decided she wanted to be in the ensemble one day, and is now a member

of the group.

The vocal ensemble is also the school’s show choir, incorporating dance

moves and choreography into its performances.

Vocal ensemble class meets every other day, although Boley said she believes

singing is like a foreign language and ought to be practiced daily.

Her students wouldn’t mind the arrangement too much.

“She’s really been the best of all that I’ve had,” said junior

Nick Lodico, proclaiming Boley as the best music teacher he’s known since

he began performing at age 8.

“I do require an awful lot from them in this class, but they enjoy

it,” Boley said.

Members of the vocal ensemble will be performing in a Broadway review

May 18, 19 and 20 at the high school.

A concert of the entire ensemble is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on June 8

in the Stonewall High School auditorium. Admission to the concert is free.



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