Heartland Community School was humming with 250 junior high students from around the state working on songs together last Friday afternoon. The Heartland Jr. High Choral Festival (HCF) began at 12:30 p.m. with 140 girls and 110 boys in attendance. After a day of practicing, they performed for the public Friday evening at 6 p.m. in the Heartland North gym.
Schools participating were Arapahoe, David City, Fillmore Central Middle School, Freeman, Hampton, Heartland, Kearney Horizon Middle School, Malcolm, Seward Middle School, Superior, Sutton, Wood River, and York St. Joseph.
This choral festival has a bit of history since it began back in January 1998. For the first nine years of the festival, it focused on a boys choir comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, typically with about 140-180 members, according to Heartland vocal/music instructor Lynn Hall.
“We concentrated on boys at that time, thinking that they might need a little extra push to get in the choir room and that smaller schools like us might especially appreciate an opportunity for their young guys to sing with a bunch of other guys who also liked to sing. It could also be an excellent reinforcement for small school music programs,” said Hall.
After a few years, many schools began requesting that they offer the same opportunity for young ladies in this age group, said Hall. In 2007, a Soprano/Alto Choir was added, and it was “an immediate success,” he said. In 2020, there were 260 singers in the Soprano/Alto Choir and 155 singers in the Tenor/Bass Choir. After a two year hiatus due to pandemic concerns, 2024 was the 25th year Heartland has hosted this festival.
“The festival has included some of the finest choir directors in the state who have been present to lead these ensembles, and we hope the combination of quality instructors, appropriate literature, and motivated students has been of help to all schools and individuals who have taken part in this festival,” said Hall.
Michael Beach of Malcolm Public Schools directed the Tenor/Bass Choir, and Patricia Fox of Logan Fontanelle Middle School in Bellevue directed the Soprano/Alto Choir.
Photos courtesy Alyssa Bartek