When 160 voices blended together in practice on Wednesday, the result was a huge, beautiful sound.
The voices include students from Pittsburg High School, as well as from around the community as performers gear up for the sixth year of the Pittsburg Multigenerational Choir performance at 7 p.m. Monday evening at Memorial Auditorium.
“The Pittsburg Multigenerational Choir is a program that I developed to bring community members into the vocal music classroom,” said director Susan Laushman. “They attend rehearsals two times a week, and sing alongside high school vocal music students. It is a wonderful opportunity for young people to connect with members of our community, and for some of the retired singers, it’s a great chance to feel involved in high school again.”
Laushman began the program with Multigenerational Women six years ago, then added a Multigenerational Men’s program to the mix three years ago, and while change always brings some challenges, participants said the event just gets better each year.
“This is my sixth year and every year the music gets harder and better,” said participant Patty Horgan.
Corine Stroup agreed, and Gordon Elliott said it is a privilege for him to be able to come and sing with the students.
Vicki Holman said several generations of her family are involved, including her son, Duke Walter and grandchildren Emma Stalnaker and Ivan Walter.
“This is a unique opportunity and such a great way for connections between our youth and their elders. Singing is something we can do way into late life and I hope the kids get that message and never stop.”
But, community members aren’t the only ones who enjoy the gathering and music.
“It’s just amazing to get everybody hear and hear everybody sing,” said student Hunter Cress.
Shelby Simpson said she is a senior at PHS this year, but this won’t be her last year performing in the Multi-generational concert.
“Since I’m going to Pittsburg State next year, I’ll definitely be back.”
The continual growth of the concert means that the event has outgrown the performance space at PHS.
“Our concert will be held at Memorial Auditorium this year,” Laushman said. “We have outgrown the PHS Auditorium, both on stage with number of performers, and off stage with number of audience.”
This allows the performance, and audience, to grow, and the performance will include a few special guests.
The SEK Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Raul Munguia, will join the performance, and soloists Jee Yuen Kim, soprano, and Jayson Canton, tenor, will sing along during selections from “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein.
“It’s tough to sing, because the range of the piece starts off low and goes up to a high C,” Canton said of the difficulty of the music.
Kim, whose daughter also is involved in the performance, said she is honored to be a part of the concert.
“I think the most important thing is, because of the music, I could feel some happiness in here,” she said. “I’m so glad they are enjoying their music.”
Canton said the sound is impressive.
“It sounds great,” he said. “It’s always an experience to feel that backing.”
The Multigenerational women also will sing “Bring Me Little Water, Silvy” arr. Moira Smiley, “Sky Dreamers” by Joy Leeper, “Garden of Love” by Rodney Money and “Let it Be” by the Beatles.
The Multigenerational men will sing “Seize the Day” Arr. Roger Emerson, “Seeing Nellie Home” Arr. Alice Parker & Robert Shaw, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” Arr. Jay Althouse and Home on the Range, Arr. Jack Baird.”