Members of Brainerd High School’s top choir ensemble are going to what the choir director is the equivalent of its state competition.
The A Cappella Choir will perform at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, during the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s Midwinter Clinic at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
“This is a really big honor to be asked to be featured at this conference,” Brian Stubbs, BHS choir director, said. “It's like we are going to state.”
A Cappella Choir will perform four pieces, including “A Silence Haunts Me,” after Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament by Todd Boss; “An Unclouded Day” by Shawn Kirchner; “Cantate Domino” by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck; and “Beauty In Humility” by F. Melius Christiansen.
Stubbs said the last time the BHS choir was chosen to perform at the state convention was in 2006. Music organizations in choir, band and orchestra have the opportunity to send in an application to the state organization to see if they qualify to perform at the conference. A committee of people are chosen to listen to dozens of recordings and then given the task to choose which groups will perform. There are different age groups through college level that perform.
The concert is not open to the public, as it is geared for music teachers from across the state to attend as part of their conference.
Stubbs said music directors look forward to hearing all the groups perform each year as it is a way for them to gather ideas on new pieces to perform.
“You kind of want to do something that other directors don't already know,” Stubbs said. “You're looking for something they never knew existed and something they may want to try. ... You want them to be inspired.”
Stubbs attended the national conference last year in Kansas City with a mission to find new, exciting compositions to bring back to Minnesota. One of those chosen pieces — “A Silence Haunts Me” — is one Brainerd will perform.
“This piece is a monster,” Stubbs said. “I could go on for the next 15 minutes talking about this piece, it’s really hard to explain.
“It's basically about how Beethoven wrote a letter to his brothers after finding out he's going deaf. This composer took the text from that letter and tried to put it into what you’d feel
like if you're Beethoven and knew you were going deaf ... knowing you compose for a living. It's this real tormented piece that ends up very hopeful. In the end, we all know Beethoven did some of his best work after he became deaf. He wrote his final symphonies ... deaf.
“But this piece is trying to put yourself in his shoes. It's really powerful and when I heard it at nationals, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ... I need to bring this piece to Minnesota. I called the composer and asked if anyone else was doing this piece because I don't want to go to the prom wearing the same dress. Do you guys know if anyone in Minnesota has touched this piece?”
The answer was no other school in Minnesota had performed the Beethoven piece, so Stubbs grabbed the opportunity and taught the students how to play it.
“They're gonna do a really, really stunning job with this piece,” Stubbs said of the 63-member choir. “We're all very excited, They have worked really hard on this.”
It is a busy time for the choir. Six days after they come back from Minneapolis on Feb. 20, the choir goes on a seven-day tour to Puerto Rico. This school year, The Brainerd School District does not have a spring break because of the construction, so the choir was able to choose the week they’d go on tour.