The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UWEC hosts the 31st annual Clearwater Choral Festival

A weekend full of making connections through the power of sound
Photo by Elyse Braun
The high school students who participated in the festival rehearsed throughout the day

The UW-Eau Claire Choral Department hosted the 31st annual Clearwater Choral Festival from Friday, Oct. 20 through Saturday, Oct. 21. 

On Friday, the festival began with A Cappella Extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. at Schofield Auditorium. The event featured performances from some of UW-Eau Claire’s a cappella groups, as well as a feature performance from Memorial High School’s Noteworthy.

On Saturday, UW-Eau Claire hosted 280 high school choral students from 28 high schools in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

The choral students participated in both full rehearsals as well as sectionals led by the directors in attendance. 

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The day also featured a scholarship opportunity called the “Outstanding Vocalist Award,” which is awarded to three high school students at each year’s festival.

Frank Watkins, Director of Choral Studies, said that the festival is advertised to high schoolers in a variety of ways.

“We advertise to all of the high schools in our region; we mail information to schools, contact high school choral directors via email, and use social media,” Watkins said.

Elise Mangan, Choral Area Assistant and second-year choral education student, said that before any of the festivals’ activities could take place there was a lot of preparation.

“I created invoices for all the directors. I kept track of all the finances. I had to email a bunch of teachers asking for random things they forgot to add like t-shirt size or voice part while I was making the program,” Mangan said.

Mangan said that she attended Clearwater when she was in high school, and even participated in the “Outstanding Vocalist Award” scholarship opportunity.

I actually was in it when I was a senior in high school two years ago. It was amazing to see everyone come together,” Mangan said. “I auditioned for the Outstanding Vocalist Award, and I actually won, and I got to keep that scholarship when I decided to go here.”

Mangan also said that the thing she was most excited about was to see everything fall into place as well as that she hopes to make a positive impact on the high school students attending.

“I’m most excited to see all my work pay off,” Mangan said. “I hope that they have such a good experience that they don’t even have to consider whether or not they want to sing at Eau Claire.”

Watkins, who spearheaded the festival, said the festival gives high school students the opportunity to continue with choir after high school.

High school students interact with college students and get to experience what college choir is like,” Watkins said.

Cecelia Zahn, a third-year choral student at Beaver Dam High School, said that she decided to attend Clearwater to try something new.

“I came to get a better experience with choir or a different experience,” Zahn said.

Zahn also said that choir at a college level seems to be a good thing to participate in.

“It seems like a really fun atmosphere to stay in, being with people that you care about and enjoying your time,” Zahn said.

In between rehearsals, the high school students attended a performance of “Godspell.” The performance featured students from UW-Eau Claire and told the story of a group of people who aided Jesus Christ in telling his stories.

The festival ended with a concert at Pablo Center at the Confluence. 

The concert featured large ensemble performances by the Woodbury High School choir, followed by UW-Eau Claire’s Novum Voce and Concert Choir. Following those performances, each of the three “Outstanding Vocalist Award” winners performed their solos.

The concert ended with a feature performance of all of the high school students who attended the festival and was presented under the direction of Dr. Watkins, as well as Dr. Christopher McGinley, Assistant Professor of Choral Music.

Watkins said that he enjoys seeing the high school student’s performance come full circle.

“Hearing how the choir develops its own unique sound throughout the day,” Watkins said. “It’s wonderful to witness the transformation and then finally the end product.”

Mangan said that all high school students who feel that they missed a nice day of festivities should make sure to come to the next Clearwater Choral Festival.

“If you’re reading this, and your high school did not attend the 31st annual Clearwater, go to the 32nd,” Mangan said.

Braun can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Elyse Braun
Elyse Braun, Chief Copy Editor

Elyse Braun is second-year journalism and psychology student. This is her second semester on The Spectator. If you can't find her she's either reading a book, getting coffee with friends or hanging out with her mom.

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