MARIETTA — Walking onto the brightly lit stage in the Marietta Auditorium just after 3 p.m. on Saturday, the students hit the starting note of “Come Ye Sons of Art” in stride.
Standing on rafters and garnished in bold blue t-shirts, students from 13 area schools took the stage for the Circle the State With Song 2017 children’s choral festival. The students began working together on the music at 9 a.m. on Saturday, but started learning the difficult pieces more in-depth in October. Following the command of director Jona Tickle, a music teacher of 27 years currently teaching at Western Heights Intermediate Center, the students stood at attention, with all eyes on Tickle and her next command.
“It’s been great day,” Tickle said of the experience directing the group. “The kids have been sweet and easy to work with and they try so hard to do whatever I asked them and we’ve had fun.”
Students from Marietta, Lone Grove, Ardmore, Plainview, Oak Hall Episcopal, Davis and Lindsay represented their schools in the collaborative choir. The students have to audition to be a part of the choir, which are conducted across the state in different regions.
“These are the cream of the crop students,” Patti Green, Charles Evans Elementary music teacher, said of the students at the event.
Paige Hagerman, Plainview Elementary School music teacher, said the festival has grown every year and more and more students are auditioning to be a part of the honor choir. Hagerman said the collaborative atmosphere of the event allows the students to make lifetime connections and friends, while also developing their musical skill.
“It’s a very challenging musical experience for them,” Hagerman said. “The music is very difficult and it helps them grow as musicians and lets them see what the future could be for them in choir and music. Music is a life long experience, not just right now.”
Hagerman accompanied the students on a few of the musical pieces, playing the flute. Landon Johnson, a junior at Ardmore High School, served as the primary accompanist, lending his piano skills to the group. Johnson, who first learned to play the piano at age 5, has experience accompanying private studio recitals and local theatre productions.
The doors of the auditorium were flooded with parents, families and spectators just before the start of the concert and the large auditorium was soon filled with the harmonic sounds of the choir, with Johnson’s piano mastery faintly present under the voices of the students. Hagerman said while each song has its own feature, many of the students embraced “Thula Klizeo” and its mimicking of auxiliary percussion through stomping and clapping.
“They like the extra rhythm portions,” Hagerman said.
While the students of the choir come from different schools, different communities and different areas, Hagerman said the time together allows them to bond over a common passion and interest: music. Sharing the learning experience with friends while also gaining a different perspective learning from a new director solidifies a lot of what the students learn in their home choirs.
And even with their differences the students, all wearing the same blue t-shirts, came together to form a single voice.