Clearview Regional’s Vocale Ensemble elated following radio competition win

The students in the choir program will perform on air and in a concert on Dec. 14 and 15

Clearview Regional High School’s Vocale Ensemble is ready to perform live on WJBR on Dec. 14 and with Jim Brickman on Dec. 15 in Wilmington, Delaware (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

By KRYSTAL NURSE

The Sun

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After a short time of deciding on songs to perform, recording their entry and winning the 99.5 WJBR Christmas Choir Competition, Clearview Regional High School students and choir teachers are ready to put their best feet forward and blow away listeners.

It was announced the choir program, which sung “Carol of the Bells” for its entry, was a finalist on Nov. 20 on WJBR after going against schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. On Dec. 3 at 7 a.m., after almost two weeks of online voting, it was announced as the winner of the competition.

Visual and performing arts teacher Diana Gable, who brought the competition to choir director Romel McInnis’ attention after a student approached her, worked diligently with McInnis to decide on a piece for the students to audition with that would showcase their abilities in the 72-hour span, which was “Carol of the Bells.”

“We wanted it to be a traditional piece because that’s the type of things we do in our choir program,” said Gable. “We don’t necessarily to the pop renditions of songs.”

“Right when Mr. McInnis announced that we were going to try out, the energy was so amazing and everyone was so excited,” said sophomore Devon DiVerniero, of Harrison Township, of the choir students. “Everybody was so ready for it, and I think it says a lot about our family and how we love to take any opportunity we can get.“

The vocal ensemble will perform at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Del., prior to two-time Grammy-nominated artist Jim Brickman on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.TheGrandWilmington.org, and live on the morning of Dec. 14 on 99.5 WJBR.

Junior Benjamin Taylor, of Mantua Township, added his favorite part of all was seeing the support the greater community and his school showed toward the ensemble throughout the competition.

“I think the town goes into vote mode where they just get really excited, and are very supportive of the arts here, and they just voted continuously, and the kids’ reaction was a really cool moment,” said McInnis. “As a teacher, and never really experiencing that before, was a really cool moment.”

Mantua Township senior Gina Freshcoln agreed it was exciting to see the town come together for them as they’re going to get the opportunity to learn from Brickman’s performance to perfect their skills. The ensemble can only be joined by audition, said McInnis, and is considered a prestigious section of the district’s overall choir program.

McInnis said he received emails from teachers and administrators throughout the district congratulating him and the choir on their feat. He added he was proud to see his students show their capabilities of being able to rehearse and record a piece for radio within three days and win it all.

“The students work really hard to achieve a beautiful sound and continuing the excellence that was set 32 years ago,” said McInnis. “It’s all about choral excellence and being one of the top choral programs in South Jersey and one of the top programs in New Jersey and keeping that consistent. These kids work really hard to do that.”

Sophomore Cecilia Young, of Mantua Township, said the competition helped the ensemble show to the community their abilities to perform, together, as they’ve come from different backgrounds in music.

“I would say that every year brings new joys and opportunities, but this one is certainly the biggest one that we’ve had,” said senior Juliana Smith of Harrison Township. “It’s very exciting for all of us.”

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