At Cincinnati Transition High School, the number 9 has taken on a special significance.
Nine months after Music Director Teresa McCoy began rehearsing nine singers from her choral program, the group – called “The Nine” – won a bronze medal at the 2012 World Choir Games.
“I almost cried I was so proud of them,” Mrs. McCoy said. “I told them ‘I cannot tell you how proud I am. My chest hurts I’m so proud of you.’”
The Nine was one of 362 choirs from 64 countries that competed in the games, held every two years throughout the world. Cincinnati was the first city in North America to host the games, which ran from July 4-14.
The week started for the choir with an opening parade in downtown Cincinnati. In addition to competing, the choirs performed free Friendship Concerts in local settings throughout the area. They met other choirs from around the world and used the universal language of music to communicate with each other.
Every day brought unique opportunities for the choir. “We met up with a choir from Turkey who was singing ‘We Are The World,'” Mrs. McCoy said. “That’s one of the songs we do so we started singing with them,. We had about five parts going, the kids singing and getting emotional, and a lady from Turkey was videotaping the whole thing. It was an amazing moment.”
Each member of the choir had special memories of the 10-day festival. Alexa Williamson said “It’s exciting. I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it is. It’s scary but at the same time I feel special that I can be a part of this.”
Assistant music director Cheyenne Campbell: “It was phenomenal. We sang “We Are The World’ with people from Turkey. People from Venezuela sang in their language and we sang in ours. It’s amazing, even if we don’t know what they’re saying. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m taking it all in.”
Assistant vocal director Elizabeth Haynes said “It is refreshing for me just being here. We sang with another group trying to learn ‘We Are The World.’ I felt a magic come between us.”
Jason K said he enjoyed observing how the choir members were handling the sensory issues. “The opening ceremony was very long and a challenge for our kids.”
Trey Davis teaches environmental science, but music is a personal passion for him.
“This opportunity working with the choir has allowed me to grow as a musician, not only vocally but allows me to hear music differently,” Mr. Davis said. “I’m able to discern the different vocal components – alto, sopranos and tenors.”
Mr. Davis said he believes the choir’s success is due to the students “putting in the hard work that we ask of them. Our students have a greater ability to hear music differently as well.”
Pierre Beal, who played drums for the choir, said he enjoyed watching the different choirs perform. “Listening to different music, just the way other choirs sing,” he said. “This is very interesting to see how other choirs sing and how they teach others to sing.”
The Nine included graduating senior Patrick Weymeyer, Ian Anderson (10th), Jason Kaczvinsky (10th), Cheyenne Campbell (11th), Gwen Robb (9th), Caitlin Vetter (10th), Alexa Williamson (10th), Rachel Rich (10th), Elisabeth Haynes (11th), Autumn Draper (11th). The group was accompanied by graduating drummer Pierre Beal and guitarist Nick Znamenacek (graduating senior) and Cullin McCoy (10th).
Mrs. McCoy taught a workshop at the Choir Games, entitled “Let Their Song Be Heard: Usin g Fine Arts to Nurture High School Students with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Sensory Integration Disorder and AD/HD.”
“I talked about Summit Academy and what this music means to our students,” she said. “These are kids who need and want to be part of the world around them. That is why we do what we do – to give them the tools to succeed in what they do here.”
After the announcement that the choir had received a Level Six Bronze award for its performance, Mrs. McCoy said, “No one wanted to leave. It was the most incredible experience. It was the best week of my career as a teacher.”