Muscatine choir to participate in international festival
By Joel Kraushaar
A group of high school singers will travel to Beijing, China, in late July to participate in the thirteenth annual International Federation for Choral Music Festival. The choir is being conducted by Muscatine High School Vocal Music Director Jonathan Ryan. The festival will feature over 20,000 singers from around the world. The delegation from Muscatine is one of very few high school choirs participating. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students,” said Ryan. The students will take a nine-day tour, performing at least once per day and having opportunities to enjoy and take in Chinese culture. “I am looking forward to the different kinds of food,” said recent graduate Jonathan Jardim.
One of the challenges of the festival is that sacred compositions are a staple of western choral music. With this festival taking place in China, sacred works are not permitted due to government restrictions on religion. This has allowed the choir to broaden their repertoire and learn new music. They are singing a piece in the African language of Xhosa as well as a choral arraignment of Sting’s radio hit “Fields of Gold.” The choir is also learning a piece in Mandarin Chinese.
The group rehearses twice a week or more depending on their availability. Bob Danner will travel as the choir’s accompanist. Emily Lofgren from the City of Muscatine will also be a part of the delegation. “We have literally put this trip together in three months. We have received significant financial support from the Muscatine China Initiative and the China Windows group.” The students did not have time to fundraise themselves. The cost per student has been greatly reduced due to the financial support of the community along with Glad Chang and Daniel Wang of the China Windows group.