WESTMINSTER -- Less than a month after serenading former Gov. Madeleine Kunin with their vocals, the members of the Kurn Hattin Homes Select Choir are getting their pint-sized pipes ready for the choir's appearance in the live-televised finale of "Together in Song," a WGBY Public Television choral competition series.
The show, which aims to highlight non-professional children's and adults' choir of various musical genres from Western New England, airs the final episode of its fourth season in Springfield, Mass., on April 27. Kurn Hattin's Select Choir made the cut based on a combination of judges' scores and viewers' online and phoned-in votes from a competition performance earlier in the year and was selected as one of seven regional choruses to appear on the finale. It was named a "Voter Favorite" and is slated to perform at the Together in Song Regional Choral Awards, set to be broadcast from WGBY's studios in Springfield, Mass., at 7 p.m.
Music Director Lisa Bianconi told the Reformer this performance proves to the select choir's 45 members that hard work, dedication and perseverance truly pays off.
"I just think, for the kids, it's just another amazing experience and we get to see many fine choirs perform and be a part of a very good quality and exciting performance," she said from Rockingham on Tuesday, just hours after returning from a trip to Europe with her husband. "They love to perform."
Bianconi said she was almost immediately right back to work preparing for the finale, as well as other events.
She explained the choir, made up of students in fifth through eighth grade, sent WGBY an audition tape in the fall of 2013 and received word around Christmas time that it was moving forward in the competition series. She said putting together the audition tape was an educational experience in and of itself for the students. During the competition performance, which was aired on March 22, the 45-member ensemble performed the Vermont state song, "These Green Hills," and "We Shall Overcome," a tribute to the recently deceased American folk singer Pete Seeger. It was after this performance that people cast their votes online and via text for the Kurn Hattin choir, which found out on April 14 it had qualified for the finale.
But the final stretch to the series finale was a nerve-wracking journey for Bianconi and her young singers. The music director told the Reformer she and her crew were on their way to Springfield, Mass., for the competition performance in the winter when their bus nearly broke down after cruising just four miles down Interstate 91. She said the bus managed to crawl back to campus, where she witnessed the most incredible thing -- a slew of minibuses and minivans captained by Kurn Hattin house parents waiting for the students' return in order to chauffeur them to Massachusetts. The select choir, Bianconi said, made it to WGBY five minutes before it was set to be on the air and nailed the performance without having a chance to warm up.
"It was absolute teamwork," Bianconi said. "Moving forward on ‘Together in Song' has been such a gift."
Kurn Hattin Co-Executive Director Connie Sanderson said the entire WGBY adventure has been amazing for both Bianconi and the children and their selection to the finale serves is recognition to their talent.
"We hope everyone will tune in Sunday to hear the choir first hand," she said in an e-mail to the Reformer.
The Kurn Hattin Homes Select Choir was the first Vermont chorus selected for this show last year, when it claimed the "Top Performer" award in the children's gospel category. Bianconi said WGBY has changed all the categories around this year, though the children are again the only group from Vermont.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.