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Chorus Participates in Black History Celebration
Posted 02/28/2012 10:50AM

Members of the O’Connell Singers, the select women’s chorus at Bishop O'Connell, had the privilege of performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the 2012 National African-American History Month Celebration at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.

President Katy Prebble and Principal Joe Vorbach, along with music faculty members Todd Mastric and Laura Van Duzer, were in attendance with personnel from the Coast Guard headquarters, including Vice Commandant Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara and Mr. Curtis Odom, Director of Personnel Management.  In addition to the O’Connell Singer’s performance, the morning program included poetry and words by J.Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford and a presentation of awards.

“It was an incredible honor for our students to take part in this important celebration of African-American history,” said Principal Joe Vorbach.

Encore Performance at School

The next day the O'Connell Singers delighted the student body with a repeat performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at a morning community gathering in the auditorium.

President Katy Prebble provided the audience with historical background on this musical piece, which was written in 1900 to be performed by school children at a celebration of Lincoln's birthday and is often referred to as the African-American national anthem.

Social Networking Helped Learning Process

Choral Director Laura Van Duzer spent a few minutes showing the students gathered how social networking aided the learning process of this piece. With less than a week to pull the song together, Van Duzer used her class Edmodo account (an education-focused social network) to first post a YouTube video of a chorus performing this song. She later posted the different voice parts using her phone to record. Students were able to download their individual parts and store them on their own devices to play back at their convenience.

"When we were asked to perform, I didn't think twice about it," said Van Duzer. "The students were excited for this opportunity, and grateful for the ability to polish this important piece in such a short time."

Pictured: Members of O'Connell Singers pose with Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O'Hara and Laura Van Duzer.


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