Ripon will host singers from area high schools at choral festival March 5

Ripon College will host its second annual High School Choral Festival Tuesday, March 5. About 170 Wisconsin high school singers will come to campus and enjoy a day of singing together, led by Ripon College faculty Paul Thompson, assistant professor of music, conductor, and Deb MacKenzie, adjunct instructor of music, pianist.

Schools represented are Ashwaubenon, Beaver Dam, Berlin, Campbellsport, Montello, Oakfield and Ripon high schools, Sheboygan North High School, St. Mary’s Springs Academy in Fond du Lac, and Laconia High School in Rosendale.

The day will culminate in a concert at 4:15 pm in Great Hall with the high school singers joined by the Ripon College Chamber Singers performing a short program that is free and open to the public. Selections will include “Banaha,” a Congolese folk song; “The Pasture,” by Z. Randall Stroope set to a poem by Robert Frost; “Hold me, Rock Me,” by Brian Tate; and “Libertango,” by Astor Piazolla.

“Last year was the first year of this event, and it went phenomenally well,” Thompson says. “The students had a great time and learned a lot, and got to be part of our wonderful Ripon College community for a day. This year we’ve doubled the number of high school students attending.

“The festival gives students a chance to come and sing in a college environment, and for a lot of the smaller schools in the area this gives their students the experience of singing in a large choir. The event is entirely funded through donation which has allowed us to minimize financial access barriers and bring people to a mass choir setting that they might not otherwise have had access to.”

The festival is offered free of charge to the high school singers through financial support by Bob Booty of Oshkosh. Booty is a longtime supporter of the Department of Music and has played as a community member with the Ripon College Wind Ensemble since 1980 and the Ripon College Orchestra since 1995.

He supports Ripon College music because “it’s something I like,” he says. “It’s fun, and I think it should be fun for other people and students, too.”

(Photo: Deb MacKenzie,left, and Paul Thompson)

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