Evans High School's Festival Chorus, under the direction of Jean Lancaster, competed at the Heritage Music Festival in Washington, D.C., last month, earning a second-place/silver award for three songs, and the Spirit of D.C. Award.
The chorus sang O Magnum Mysterium, Danny Boy, and O Sifuni Mungu, a spirited song complete with traditional African instruments.
Tenor soloists David Bland and Jarrett O'Neal were featured on O Sifuni Mungu and received special commendation from the judges.
"We were graded on style, accuracy, notes and rhythm, expressive elements, balance and pronunciation," said Jean Lancaster. Middle and high schools from New York to Mississippi also competed.
Freshmen Krystal Human and Violet Kester said they found the competition suspenseful.
"It was hard to think on stage during the competition," Violet said. "I was trying to remember the points Ms. Lancaster made previously."
Jarrett, a senior, also admitted being a little nervous before competing.
"We didn't have that much time to practice together," he said, adding that three different Evans High choirs make up the Festival Chorus and the groups do not regularly rehearse together.
Despite the limited practice time, David, also a senior, said he felt confident about the group's abilities.
"We always pull it off," he said. "And not only did we get the silver award, we got the Spirit of D.C. Award as well."
"I didn't know there was such an award," Lancaster said. "The organizers decided that our group represented its school, community and state the best of those who were there. I was overwhelmed."
Freshman Karla Thigpen remembered hearing Evans High named for the prestigious award. "Everyone jumped up and started screaming," she said.
Lancaster said the awards were "a real tribute to the kids." She added that the entire trip, complete with tours to historic monuments and museums, was full of learning opportunities about the country and music. "It was a great trip."
David agreed. "It was great that we went out with a bang."
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