Last weekend, the Masterworks Choir and Vocal Ensemble from Downingtown East participated in the 29th Annual Roxbury Invitational, which is one of the largest festivals in the country. They competed against 24 different choral ensembles from PA, NY, and NJ in two categories- Pop/Jazz/Show, and Concert divisions.
In their first Roxbury appearance in 2011, the Vocal Ensemble received a Silver Rating. Last year they received a Gold Rating and finished in 4th place, just missing the finals. This year, our highly select 20-voice Vocal Ensemble was one of the top three scoring Jazz/Pop/Show choirs from the daytime performances and was featured in the evening showcase finals, earning an encore performance, Gold Rating, and the 2nd Runner-up Overall Award.This is the highest ranking our Vocal Ensemble has ever achieved in this, our third invited appearance in this competition against world-ranked choirs.
Our 60-voice “Masterworks Choir” (not the curricular class, but a group of interested students in 9-12th grade who rehearsed together once a week for an hour on Thursday evenings) was also invited back this year for their second appearance in the Concert division. For the second year in a row they won a special achievement award- this time for best Alto section in the festival. Most of the other choirs in this division, containing only upperclassmen, meet as a class daily, and rehearse additionally in the evening. I am incredibly proud of the work they did in such limited rehearsal time and am happy we could provide such a worthwhile experience to a large group of dedicated students who were seeking voluntary musical enrichment. This will only help to strengthen our curricular choir program when they take what they have learned back to their individual classes.
Both of our competing choirs performed very well and learned so much in getting to work with some of the best university-level music educators clinicians (Harvard, Rutgers, Butler, Augustana, Indiana, Purdue). Four of our vocalists also got to perform solos and receive individual feedback. Our amazing clinicians were people who have received Grammy nominations, prepared Super Bowl halftime shows, performed in Disney productions, and coached Broadway vocalists. We will study our score sheets, written comments and recorded commentary from the judges as we reflect on what we can do to learn from them and keep improving as an ensemble. We also spent nearly 12 hours on the trip observing other schools’ great choirs perform. It was an incredibly valuable educational experience.