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On the Mark: A day of music and beauty

Early on Monday, March 11, Cromwell-Wright High School singers boarded a big yellow bus headed for the Crosby-Ironton School to participate in the annual Minnesota State High School League choral contest. The students had been preparing for months, receiving solo, duet, and ensemble instruction from MaryRose Varo, Cromwell-Wright's energetic and accomplished vocal teacher. On the piano, Cromwell-Wright's Macie Lind and I served as accompanists, rehearsing with soloists and singers of duets and large ensembles, appreciating MaryRose's feedback and suggestions for both singers and pianists.

Varo had chosen beautiful pieces, many from American and English folk traditions, matching each to the ranges and preferences of her students. The entire day kicked off with a girls ensemble singing "Hashivenu," accompanied by Macie on the piano, followed by Gary Fredrickson singing "Shenandoah," with me on the piano. After each piece, the professional judge in the room gave the singers and pianist feedback. My first challenging (and gorgeous) piece was "Nel Cor più non mi sento," sung by Kieriahna Goodin, followed by "I Gave My Love a Cherry," a mountain song from Kentucky, sung by Sabrina Zoeller, and the duet, "Scarborough Fair," sung by Aurora Gervais and Jollene Bassett.

By early afternoon, we'd moved on to "Homeward Bound," sung by 11 Cromwell High School boys, and "All Through the Night," a Welsh lullaby, with a solo by Catriona Cahoon. By mid-afternoon, I was taking photos of the full choir performing "Give Us Hope" by Jim Papoulis, accompanied by Macie Lind, and an original piece, "On Freedom's Shore," led by MaryRose, who accompanied on the guitar. Aurora Gervais performed a solo in the American folk song "The Water is Wide." Other performances featured Kaylee Smith singing "Auprès De Ma Blonde," Grace Swenson singing "The Last Rose of Summer," Gracie Foley and Kaylee Smith singing "Till the Stars Fall From the Sky" and a lovely trio piece, "Somewhere There's a Song," sung by Grace Swenson, Kieriahna Goodin and Grace Swenson.

We ended our choral offerings with "Caro Mio Ben," an Italian song by Giuseppe Giordani, sung by Allison Greczyk.

It was an energetic day. And a day of beauty.

Columnist Ann Markusen is an economist and professor emerita at University of Minnesota.One of the five owners of the Pine Knot News, she lives in Red Clover Township north of Cromwell with her husband, Rod Walli.

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