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BHS choir a smashing success in London festival

Forty-nine choir students spent their spring break in London where they brought home the silver.   - Courtesy photo
Forty-nine choir students spent their spring break in London where they brought home the silver.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Bremerton High School concert choir spent its spring break taking in some of the history of London, England, and making some remarkable history of its own.

The group competed in the Heritage Festival, April 5, at the Royal Academy of Music, and won high marks in all three categories in which it participated, winning the Concert Choir competition. Bremerton also added the prestigious “Spirit of London” award to its pile of royal jewels. The concert choir, the women’s ensemble, and the men’s ensemble all received Silver awards in a scoring system where winning didn’t guarantee Gold.

“The criteria was tough,” said director Cassie Gillis. “They wanted us to bring it, and we did, but we were exhausted.”

The 49 students, Gillis, and their chaperons including accompanist, middle school music teacher Wendy McThetres, were kept on the move all day every day. “We kind of lost track of what day it was,” Gillis said.

In the four full days the choir had in London, they fit in the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, a performance of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Theatre, their own performance at the Union Chapel Cathedral, the “Jack the Ripper” tour, and the competition itself.

“London is a beautiful city,” said choir member Launa Sorensen. “There’s a sense of history that you just can’t get in the United States. London combines the modern and the ancient very well. It’s almost magical.”

The Spirit of London award showed the choir managed some magic of its own. “It showed that Bremerton High School is now internationally recognized as a school with great kids,” Sorensen said. Although the official description of the award states it goes to the school that best represents its community in an international setting, Sorensen said it went to the school that showed “the most respect, spirit, and general niceness to everyone around them.”

Bremerton beat out 16 other schools for the award, granted by a panel of judges from England, the Netherlands, and the United States. The groups’ music included selections from classical concert choir literature, and some folk music. The awards were received at a Renaissance madrigal feast at St. Catherine’s wharf on the evening of the competition.

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