Off to England: Stayton choir heads to London for international festival

December, 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, School
The Stayton High School choir was  invited to the 2015 London International Choral Festival in September 2014 by the former Lord Mayor of Westminster in her formal, official attire, far right. Photo by Jim Kinghorn

The Stayton High School choir was invited to the 2015 London International Choral Festival in September 2014 by the former Lord Mayor of Westminster in her formal, official attire, far right. Photo by Jim Kinghorn

By Mary Owen

After two years of fundraising, Stayton High School vocalists are going to London.

“The students and parents worked hard and raised over $10,000 to help ourselves have a wonderful time,” said Diane Allen-Jackson, choir director. “There are extras that will happen that even the kids don’t know about at this point. They will have a few surprises happen for them as we go through that week.”

Members of all three SHS choirs will participate in the London International Choral Festival, the reason for the Dec. 27-Jan. 3 trip. Stayton High has a men’s choir and a women’s choir, both performing pop, folk, jazz, and contemporary music, and a concert choir, performing more traditional sacred and secular classical music. The three choirs are directed by Allen-Jackson, who has taught at SHS and Stayton Middle School since 1994, and has built the choir program into seven choirs between the two schools.

Also on the agenda for the singers is a visit to Hampton Court, home of King Henry VIII, and tours of Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, St. Paul Cathedral, Trafalger Square and Buckingham Palace.

“We will take a water boat cruise down the Thames to the Old Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum in Greenwich,” Allen-Jackson said. “We will be walking in the steps of Jack the Ripper on a tour of the London area where he ‘worked.’ We will also walk the Harry Potter tour and see all that is Harry Potter in London.

“Before the Harry Potter walking tour begins, we will visit the Hardy Tree at St. Pancreas Station,” she added. “We will also attend a medieval banquet down on the River Thames, and we get to dress in the fashion of the 1500s. It’s a two-hour event with a show, and the kids will get to participate in some of the action.”

Stayton students and parents will also march in the New Year’s Parade and carry a Macy’s mermaid balloon.

More than 8,500 performers representing 20 countries worldwide will assemble for the 2016 Parade, which will be filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns, acrobats and much more.

“The parade is televised all over the world and usually runs in attendance of over a million people watching from the sidelines,” Allen-Jackson said. “It’s going to be a fun adventure!”

The trip comes on the heels of a visit by guest conductor Justin Doyle, director of choral music for the LICF, who came for two days in November from London to fine tune music the choir has been working on for the Gala Concert slated for the end of the London visit. Stayton High choir students will sing with choirs from the Midwest and Eastern United States in concert with the Young People’s Youth Symphony Orchestra of London. The concert will be presented at the Westminster Concert Hall, across from Westminster Abbey, Allen-Jackson said.

Prior to their trip, the SHS choir will perform with the SHS band in a Holiday Concert at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14. Admission is a can of food per person to support the school’s community food drive.

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