Acappellooza: All about a cappella

Jim Henry (front), director of choral studies at UMSL, leads the award-winning Ambassadors of Harmony at Acappellooza, a two-day festival held last week at the Touhill.

Nearly 1,200 students from more than 25 St. Louis-area high schools packed into the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center last week for Acappellooza at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. During the two-day a cappella festival, they learned from the finest vocal talent at UMSL and performed in 600-voice choruses led by Jim Henry, director of choral studies.

“It is designed to help get young people excited about singing not only in school, but for the rest of their lives,” Henry said. “We want to introduce these students to various a cappella styles, to other students across the St. Louis metropolitan area who share their love of music, and to UMSL and its music programs.”

Acappellooza was held Sept. 21 and 22. The students were given two musical selections at the beginning of the day and then break off into section rehearsals to learn the music from guest clinicians. After learning the notes, they came back to the Touhill’s Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall to rehearse the music together as a 600-voice chorus led by Henry.

Caroline Kraft-Ibnabdeljalil, director of choirs at University City (Missouri) High School, marveled at the performances by the massive choral groups.

“What an awesome sound,” she exclaimed. “My students always come back to rehearsals with a renewed sense of how great it is to be in a choir. The students look forward to the event every year, and as their director, I am thankful for the energy and reinforcement of good choral technique it shows them.”

Acappellooza is sponsored by UMSL and the Ambassadors of Harmony, an award-winning 160-voice chorus directed by Henry. Each day of the festival culminated with a concert featuring several performers from UMSL, as well as many off-campus guests. This year’s concerts included the UMSL choirs University Singers and Vocal Point; Stella Markou, director of vocal studies; soul and jazz vocalist and UMSL alumnus Brian Owens, accompanied on piano by UMSL Chancellor Tom George; Brendan Lally, a UMSL student and vocalist with the Opera Workshop; the newly formed UMSL Quartet the UMSL Schmumsls; and several award-winning quartets including Progression and Shades of Jade.

More information:
http://www.umsl.edu/~umslmusic/bios/jimhenry.html
http://www.aoh.org/

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