SHS student wins spot in All-New England Choral Festival

SHS music student, Ainsley Bertone. Photo by Karen Engdahl.

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – When SHS student Ainsley Bertone tried out in December for the New England Music Festival Association choir, she understood it would be a long time before she knew the results of her audition.

“I had almost forgotten about it, actually,” she said with a smile, “but one day when I was feeling kind of discouraged I went to my lesson with Mr. Chlebak (SHS music teacher) and he handed me a big white envelope. It took a while to sink in, but finally I realized I had been accepted! I made it into the choral ensemble, and I missed a perfect score by only nine points!”

Bertone will be one of more than a hundred regional high school students gathering at the Lewis Mills High School in Burlington, Conn., for three days in mid-March to learn, rehearse, and perform a full concert of choral masterpieces. Instrumentalists who successfully auditioned for the festival will also perform in the concert. The New England Music Festival, which was founded in 1927, is one of the oldest such festivals in the nation.

“We’ve gotten the list of repertoire,” said Bertone, “and it’s a beautiful selection of pieces for mature voices. I can’t wait to sing with this group!”

Bertone explained that the conductor, Dr. Janet Galavan from Ithaca College, has sent specific markings and instructions for the music, which includes “Red, Red Rose” by Mulholland; “Sing Unto God” by Handel; “Snow Angel,” a song for women’s voices; and “Sound Off,” a song for men’s voices.

Students participating in the festival are housed with local host families for the three-day event. Bertone, who is the only student from Springfield traveling to the festival, said she expects to hear from her host family some time in February.

“I’ll be going there by myself, so it will be a real adventure!” she said.

In addition to preparing for the March festival, Bertone, who is hoping for a career in musical theatre, is finishing her college auditions in the weeks ahead.

“I’m going into each experience knowing I have something to learn,” she said. “I can’t act like I ‘know it all’ or that I’ve got this thing nailed down. There’s always more to learn – you have to have passion and keep it going.”

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