Show choir wraps up successful competition season

Director already is making plans for next year


Jonas Hollis

During an assembly in the Welch Activity Center, the award-winning show choir performs.

Madeline Liter, Reporter

With the competition choir season coming to a close, choir members and their director reflect on their successful results and plan for next year.

The all-female show choir team had a record-breaking season. The team showed up and showed out at their competitions this year and ended strong by winning their division in the Orlando Heart of America National Show Choir Competition in Florida.

Director of Choirs Mrs. Marian Bender said, “We were very surprised. We did not expect to win Grand Champion.” However, their victory was not luck. 

Junior  and show choir member Gwenna Lewis said, “All year long we have class (and) rehearsals, of course. Then, Sunday (we have) dance intensive for (about) four hours. Then, getting closer to competition season, we have rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays for usually three hours and a tech week before our first competition, where we have it every day.”

The show choir performers were not victorious only in Florida. In their total of six competitions, the show choir performed well at all six. Lewis said, “I know this was the best season we’ve ever had. We had a really good group (and) everyone was really committed. We won two competitions, which we’ve only ever in a (recent previous) season won one.”

One possible reason for the girls’ success could be the group’s culture and atmosphere. Bender said, “This year I felt like (the team) was a very cohesive, encouraging (and) very hardworking group of young ladies. They decided right away that they were going to work as a team, and it felt like they were all working for the greater good.”

In regards to her view on the group, Lewis said, “We’re all really close (and) it’s really fun. Especially as an underclassman it’s really nice to know upperclassmen who knew things about not only choir (but) also just regular school things. The juniors and seniors are really close and I would say the freshmen and sophomores are as well. It’s nice, because you have people in every grade that you can lean on.”

Bender said that the seniors are at least partially responsible for the healthy and supportive environment. “(The seniors) absolutely took on a leadership role. Two of them are dance captains, Abby Co and Trisha Schneider,” Bender said. Since Bender has been here for five years, she has a deep connection with the seniors, especially with the students who have participated in show choir for all four years.

Bender has made significant improvements to the choir program during those five years, with comments from more than one veteran teacher on the Hill noting that this is the best the choir program has ever been. In addressing the comments, Bender said, “That is very kind. I’m not sure about that, but I do have a passion for teaching music and a love of sharing that music with young people. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to teach the talented students at Cathedral.”

Lewis said she admires Bender’s teaching and she said, “Mrs. Bender brings you to a different level through singing, where a lot of the Catholic grade schools don’t have very good music programs, so she’s really good at teaching you a lot about how to technically sing, as well as the fact that show choir is a whole new world and there’s a lot to learn. ”

Bender said that it has been a slow and steady process to make strides in the program. In regards to a change she would make, Bender said, “While we have a strong female show choir and a mixed concert choir, (but) I have many boys who would like to have the option to sing in a mixed competitive show choir.” Bender said she hopes that a mixed show choir is in the near future.

Although there are changes that Bender would like to make, she said that she is happy with the program and the show choir. “The main thing is that the students who participate in choir are generally amazing,” Bender said.

For advice for students who would like to audition for show choir, Lewis said, “Join it and give it a try. Everyone starts as a beginner.”