Every Monday for the past several months, four area high school students have been exercising their vocal chords in preparation for performing in a Christmas concert with Charlottes Renaissance choral ensemble.
The ensemble has auditioned promising high school juniors and seniors for its Renaissance Apprenticeship Program (RAP) each fall since 2007, said Roger Coates, who helps organize the experience. High school chorus teachers recommend top students in their programs to perform in front of the judges.
This years RAP students were selected from 16 auditions and include: Ruben Arguello, a South Mecklenburg student who sings baritone; Gabi Stephens, a soprano also from South Mecklenburg; Lindsay Ferkol, an alto from Ardrey Kell; and Brian Vercauteren, a tenor from Charlotte Catholic.
I was really excited to be chosen, said Gabi, who said auditions included sight-reading out of a hymnal and singing scales.
The four chosen students were paired with a mentor from the Renaissance choir. For nine rehearsals, mentors sat in to provide advice and tips, Coates said.
Along with the mentor opportunity, each student received a certificate of achievement and a letter of recommendation. Participants high schools also received a financial donation to their schools music programs, Coates said.
Ive ... observed some excellent choral singing in some of the schools we have scouted for apprentices, Coates said. And many of the best singers have not planned on a music major in college. We want to show these teens that no matter what career they may choose, there are satisfying musical experiences available to them after high school.
Linda Warren, who helps with RAP auditions and has taught music for 49 years, said music can be a gift to youth.
In our bustling, hurry-up, technological, instant gratification society, music can give and teach so much about emotions, everyday living, history, self-discipline, (and) practice, Warren said. It causes one to pause and listen, and be a part of something greater than ones self.
Members of the community are invited to attend the Christmas concert, at 8 p.m. Dec. 22 at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte.
This years students and the adult choir will perform Johann Sebastian Bachs Magnificat. Coates said the piece is challenging even for the adult choir. What makes the piece difficult? Its Bach, said Gabi, laughing.
This is probably the most difficult piece Ive done, she said. The tempo is quite fast, and there are a lot of .... running 16th notes, so its easy to get lost.
But Gabi, a senior, said she is not nervous, because performing seems to come naturally for her.
Im forever somewhere rehearsing, Gabi said. Lord knows when I first started singing.
Coates said the RAP program has been successful on multiple levels, including strengthening youths passion for choral music and establishing new friendships.