With the world focused on the upcoming Olympic Games in London, Centre County recently sent 35 representatives to an international competition of a different sort.
The Concordia Singers of the Nittany Valley Children’s Choir, consisting of local girls ages 12-21, traveled to Cincinnati for the World Choir Games, an invitation-only event drawing 342 choirs from across the globe.
The chosen choirs are part of history. It’s the first time the 12- year-old event, known as the “Olympics of Choral Music,” has come to the United States after taking place in several nations, including Austria, Korea and Germany.
Friday, the Concordia Singers performed four selections in the Youth Choirs of Equal Voices category of the Champions Division. Results were announced during an awards ceremony Saturday night, too late for publication.
“I was so proud of the girls,” said director Lou Ann Shafer earlier in the day from Cincinnati. “They just did wonderfully. It was very nerve-wracking, because there are so many good choirs here. But we had a very, very good and enthusiastic audience, and I think the girls did very well.”
Accompanied on piano by Shafer’s husband, Tim, the choir sang “Cantate Domino” by Paul Ayres, “Evening Song” by Zoltan Kodaly, “Festive Hallelujah” by Lyn Williams and “I See the Heaven’s Glories” by Andrea Ramsey.
The choir also sang in an outdoor Friendship Concert with, among others, the Shanghai Women Entrepreneurs Choir.
“They were so friendly,” Lou Ann Shafer said. “They didn’t speak a lot of English, but we had a great camaraderie and a great time with them.”
Shafer said event organizers selected her choir based on its appearance last year at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Chicago. Only five choirs nationally were asked to perform at the convention.
Amy Rothrock, of State College, said her 14-year-old daughter Margaret was “so excited” after the choir was accepted to the World Choir Games last fall.
“She’s been on cloud nine ever since,” Rothrock said.
Rothrock said the trip cost each girl $600. She and her husband, Ling Rothrock, paid for half of their daughter’s expenses. The rest she raised herself.
“She’s been baking cookies, selling cookies and baby-sitting,” Amy Rothrock said.
Today, the choir returns home with happy memories that include appearing in a CBS news report and befriending fellow singers from different cultures.
“It’s just been a wonderful experience to hear the choirs from all over the world,” Lou Ann Shafer said. “It’s really overwhelming that we all share the same musical language.”
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter@CRosenblumNews.