Nease Honors Chorus wins competition, performs spring concert


From the moment the 80-voice Nease High School Honors Chorus launched into its spring concert Thursday, May 13, the reason for their recent competition victory was manifest.

The tones were rich, the harmonies perfect and the enunciation crystal clear despite the students having to sing through masks.

The Music in the Park Festival, held at Kissimmee High School and sponsored by Universal Orlando, marked the first time in Nease history that its honors chorus went to a competition, according to chorus director Madeline Poe.

“They sang so beautifully,” she said. “I’m just so proud of them.”

She said the students did not complain about having to sing behind face coverings.

“It’s just been unbelievable how they persevered,” Poe said. “I watched their glasses fog up while they were trying to sing, and they just kept going. It’s inspiring to be around young people who don’t give up.”

“It is extremely difficult to sing with masks, because when you’re trying to get air, the mask gets sucked back into you, and it’s harder for the sound to get out,” said chorus member Alexis Boris. “So, it affects your singing a lot.”

Chorus member Blythe Gouker had another take on this challenge.

“In a way, it’s improved our skills as musicians,” she said, “just because we have to overcompensate with our blending and our tones so we can make sure the audience can hear even through the masks.”

The singers proved they were up to the challenge. The chorus received a near perfect score, winning both their class and the competition as a whole.

At Thursday’s concert, the chorus performed the two classical pieces from the competition before launching into the concert proper.

In the first half of the concert, the Honors Women’s Chorus performed songs by the 1970s Swedish pop group Abba, which were featured in the Broadway hit “Mama Mia!”

Chorus member Genevieve Bahr said her favorite part of the whole concert was during one of the pieces from the show, “I Have A Dream,” because she got to sing in a small group with Blythe and Alexis.

In the second half, the Honors Mixed Chorus presented songs from the musical “Come From Away,” which tells the story of how a small Canadian town cared for 6,579 airline passengers stranded there on Sept. 11, 2001, when 38 planes were diverted to its doorstep.

“It’s a really neat story about people coming together,” said Poe.

Alexis said her favorite part of the concert was a duet that she and Seth Relampagos sang. “Stop the World” is about two of the passengers – one from Texas, the other from England – who meet as a result of the forced landing.

“It’s actually a lovely and a very true love story, and I think it’s really awesome to portray something so amazing that happened in real life,” Alexis said.

Poe praised the students for their resiliency and desire to continue learning despite the challenges they faced.

“I think it’s really been good for the kids to have their normal activities back in some fashion, even though we’re not exactly normal yet,” said Poe. “They’re very excited, more so, I think, than before COVID. I think they’re not taking things for granted like they maybe once did. I think our students are really hungry for learning and opportunities, because they truly missed them when they didn’t have them.”

And perhaps nothing said that better than their concert, where the chorus demonstrated that obstacles cannot stop beautiful music where singers persevere.